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How a typical West African day in the future-climate compares with current-climate conditions in a convection-permitting and parameterised convection climate model


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Current-climate precipitation and temperature extremes have been identified by decision makers in West Africa as among the more impactful weather events causing lasting socioeconomic damage. In this article, we use a plausible future-climate scenario (RCP8.5) for the end of the twenty-first century to explore the relative commonness of such extremes under global warming. The analysis presented considers what a typical day in the future climate will feel like relative to current extrema. Across much of West Africa, we see that the typical future-climate day has maximum and minimum temperatures greater than 99.5% of currently experienced values. This finding exists for most months but is particularly pronounced during the Boreal spring and summer. The typical future precipitation event has a daily rainfall rate greater than 95% of current storms. These findings exist in both a future scenario model run with and without parameterised convection, and for many of the Coupled Model Inter-comparison Project version 5 ensemble members. Additionally, agronomic monsoon onset is projected to occur later and have greater inter-annual variability in the future. Our findings suggest far more extreme conditions in future climate over West Africa. The projected changes in temperature and precipitation could have serious socioeconomic implications, stressing the need for effective mitigation given the potential lack of adaptation pathways available to decision makers.