Whilst we have confidence in the ability of Global Climate Models (GCM) to project future temperatures, rainfall is much more uncertain. The rain that falls in any one place at any time reflects the nature of atmospheric and oceanic circulation. Although circulation patterns are evident at a global scale, they are mediated by local factors, which include topography and the formation of local weather systems. Central and southern Africa is subject to tropical weather systems (that form around the equator) and also sub-tropical and temperate systems to the south of the continent.
With a cold ocean (Atlantic) on the western side and a warm ocean (Indian) to the east, the region is also subject to particular ocean-atmosphere interactions. UMFULA is investigating a variety of factors that affect central and southern Africa’s climate through circulation patterns and ocean-atmosphere interaction. These include the Angola Low, temperate tropical cloud bands, tropical ex-tropical cloud bands and subtropical highs. A better understanding of the mechanisms that are responsible for climate variability allows us to evaluate how well GCMs replicate climate conditions, thus increasing our confidence in projections of future climate.
In the context of the recent damaging extreme events in the region, UMFULA is also investigating the future characteristics of extreme rainfall events over Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania which result from extreme deep convection and tropical lows/tropical cyclones.