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Regional co-variability of spatial and temporal soil moisture - precipitation coupling in North Africa: an observational perspective

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Petrova,  Irina
Terrestrial Remote Sensing / HOAPS, The Land in the Earth System, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;
IMPRS on Earth System Modelling, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

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Hohenegger,  Cathy
Hans Ertel Research Group Clouds and Convection, The Atmosphere in the Earth System, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Petrova, I., van Heerwaarden, C. C., Hohenegger, C., & Guichard, F. (2018). Regional co-variability of spatial and temporal soil moisture - precipitation coupling in North Africa: an observational perspective. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 22, 3275-3294. doi:10.5194/hess-22-3275-2018.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-5F59-2
Abstract
The magnitude and sign of soil moisture - precipitation coupling (SMPC) is investigated using a probability-based approach and 10 years of daily microwave satellite data across North Africa at 1° horizontal resolution. Specifically, the co-existence and co-variability of spatial (i.e. using soil moisture gradients) and temporal (i.e. using soil moisture anomaly) soil moisture effects on afternoon rainfall is studied at 100 km scale. The analysis shows that in the semi-arid environment of the Sahel, the negative spatial and the negative temporal coupling relationships do not only co-exist, but are also dependent of one another. Hence, if afternoon rain falls over temporally drier soils, it is likely to be surrounded by a wetter environment. Two regions are identified as SMPC "hot spots". These are the south-western part of the domain (7–15° N, 10° W–7° E) with the most robust negative SMPC signal, and the South Sudanian region (5–13° N, 24–34° E). The sign and significance of the coupling in the latter region is found to be largely modulated by the presence of wetlands and is susceptible to the amount of long-lived propagating convective systems. The presence of wetlands and irrigated land areas is found to account for about 30 % of strong and significant spatial SMPC in North African domain. This study provides the first insight into regional variability of SMPC in North Africa, and supports potential relevance of mechanisms associated with enhanced sensible heat flux and meso-scale variability in surface soil moisture for deep convection development.