Land-surface characteristics and climate in West Africa: Models' biases and impacts of historical anthropogenically-induced deforestation

Souleymane Sy, Nathalie de Noblet-Ducoudré, Benjamin Quesada, Ibrahima Sy, Amadou Moctar Dieye, Amadou Thierno Gaye, Benjamin Sultan

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch Articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Land Use Land-Cover Change (LULCC), such as deforestation, affects the climate system and land-atmosphere interactions. Using simulations carried out within the LUCID (Land Use and Climate, IDentification of robust Impacts) project framework, we first quantify the role of historical land-cover change induced by human activities on surface climate inWest Africa. Focusing on two contrasted African regions, we find that climate responses of land-use changes are small but they are still statistically significant. InWestern Sahel, a statistically significant near-surface atmospheric cooling and a decrease in water recycling are simulated in summer in response to LULCC. Over the Guinean zone, models simulate a significant decrease in precipitation and water recycling in autumn in response to LULCC. This signal is comparable in magnitude with the effect induced by the increase in greenhouse gases. Simulated climate changes due to historical LULCC could however be underestimated because: (i) the prescribed LULCC can be underestimated in those regions; (ii) the climate models underestimate the coupling strength between West African surface climate and leaf area index (LAI) and (iii) the lack of interactive LAI in some models. Finally, our study reveals indirect atmospheric processes triggered by LULCC. Over the Western Sahel, models reveal that a significant decrease in solar reflection tend to cool down the surface and thus counteract the atmospheric feedback. Conversely, over the Guinea zone, models reveal that the indirect atmospheric processes and turbulent heat fluxes dominate the climatic responses over the direct effects of LULCC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1917
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 23 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Building and Construction
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


Dive into the research topics of 'Land-surface characteristics and climate in West Africa: Models' biases and impacts of historical anthropogenically-induced deforestation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this