Influence of Lake Malawi on regional climate from a double-nested regional climate model experiment

Ismaïla Diallo, Filippo Giorgi, Frode Stordal

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32 Scopus citations


We evaluate the performance of the regional climate model (RCM) RegCM4 coupled to a one dimensional lake model for Lake Malawi (also known as Lake Nyasa in Tanzania and Lago Niassa in Mozambique) in simulating the main characteristics of rainfall and near surface air temperature patterns over the region. We further investigate the impact of the lake on the simulated regional climate. Two RCM simulations, one with and one without Lake Malawi, are performed for the period 1992–2008 at a grid spacing of 10 km by nesting the model within a corresponding 25 km resolution run (“mother domain”) encompassing all Southern Africa. The performance of the model in simulating the mean seasonal patterns of near surface air temperature and precipitation is good compared with previous applications of this model. The temperature biases are generally less than 2.5 °C, while the seasonal cycle of precipitation over the region matches observations well. Moreover, the one-dimensional lake model reproduces fairly well the geographical pattern of observed (from satellite measurements) lake surface temperature as well as its mean month-to-month evolution. The Malawi Lake-effects on the moisture and atmospheric circulation of the surrounding region result in an increase of water vapor mixing ratio due to increased evaporation in the presence of the lake, which combines with enhanced rising motions and low-level moisture convergence to yield a significant precipitation increase over the lake and neighboring areas during the whole austral summer rainy season.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3397-3411
Number of pages15
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number9-10
StatePublished - May 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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