Simulated Physical Mechanisms Associated with Climate Variability over Lake Victoria Basin in East Africa

Anyah, Richard O.; Semazzi, Fredrick H. M.; Xie, Lian
December 2006
Monthly Weather Review;Dec2006, Vol. 134 Issue 12, p3588
Academic Journal
A fully coupled regional climate, 3D lake modeling system is used to investigate the physical mechanisms associated with the multiscale variability of the Lake Victoria basin climate. To examine the relative influence of different processes on the lake basin climate, a suite of model experiments were performed by smoothing topography around the lake basin, altering lake surface characteristics, and reducing or increasing the amount of large-scale moisture advected into the lake region through the four lateral boundaries of the model domain. Simulated monthly mean rainfall over the basin is comparable to the satellite (Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission) estimates. Peaks between midnight and early morning hours characterize the simulated diurnal variability of rainfall over the four quadrants of the lake, consistent with satellite estimates, although the simulated peaks occur a little earlier. It is evident in the simulations with smoothed topography that the upslope/downslope flow generated by the mountains east of the lake and the land–lake breeze circulations play important roles in influencing the intensity, the location of lake/land breeze fronts, and the horizontal extent of the land–lake breeze circulation, as well as lake basin precipitation. When the lake surface is replaced with marsh (water hyacinth), the late night and early morning rainfall maximum located over the western sector of the lake is dramatically reduced. Our simulations also indicate that large-scale moisture transported via the prevailing easterly trades enhances lake basin precipitation significantly. This is in contrast to the notion advanced in some of the previous studies that Lake Victoria generates its own climate (rainfall) through precipitation–evaporation–reprecipitation recycling only.


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