Climate Dynamics

, Volume 53, Issue 3–4, pp 2197–2227 | Cite as

Numerical simulation of surface solar radiation over Southern Africa. Part 2: projections of regional and global climate models

  • Chao TangEmail author
  • Béatrice Morel
  • Martin Wild
  • Benjamin Pohl
  • Babatunde Abiodun
  • Chris Lennard
  • Miloud Bessafi


In the second part of this study, possible impacts of climate change on Surface Solar Radiation (SSR) in Southern Africa (SA) are evaluated. We use outputs from 20 regional climate simulations from five Regional Climate Models (RCM) that participate in the Coordinated Regional Downscaling Experiment program over the African domain (CORDEX-Africa) along with their 10 driving Global Climate Models (GCM) from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5). Multi-model mean projections of SSR trends are consistent between the GCMs and their nested RCMs. However, this consistency is not found for each GCM/RCM setup. Over the centre of SA, GCMs and RCMs project a statistically significant increase in SSR by 2099 of about + 1 W/m2 per decade in RCP4.5 (+ 1.5 W/m2 per decade in RCP8.5) during the DJF season in their multi-model means. Over Eastern Equatorial Africa (EA-E) a statistically significant decrease in SSR of about − 1.5 W/m2 per decade in RCP4.5 (− 2 W/m2 per decade in RCP8.5) is found in the ensemble means in DJF, whereas in JJA SSR is predicted to increase by about + 0.5 W/m2 per decade under RCP4.5 (+ 1 W/m2 per decade in RCP8.5). SSR projections are fairly similar between RCP8.5 and RCP4.5 before 2050 and then the differences between those two scenarios increase up to about 1 W/m2 per decade with larger changes in RCP8.5 than in RCP4.5 scenario. These SSR evolutions are generally consistent with projected changes in Cloud Cover Fraction over SA and may also related to the changes in atmosphere water vapor content. SSR change signals emerge earlier out of internal variability estimated from reanalyses (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts Reanalysis ERA-Interim, ERAIN) in DJF in RCMs than in GCMs, which suggests a higher sensitivity of RCMs to the forcing RCP scenarios than their driving GCMs in simulating SSR changes. Uncertainty in SSR change projections over SA is dominated by the internal climate variability before 2050, and after that model and scenario uncertainties become as important as internal variability until the end of the 21st century.


Surface solar radiation Climate change projections Regional climate model Southern Africa CORDEX-Africa CMIP5 



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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire d’Energétique, d’Electronique et ProcédésUniversité de La RéunionLa RéunionFrance
  2. 2.Institute for Atmospheric and Climate ScienceETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Centre de Recherches de ClimatologieUMR6282 Biogéosciences, CNRS/Université de Bourgogne Franche-ComtéDijonFrance
  4. 4.Climate System Analysis Group, Department of Environmental and Geographical SciencesUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa

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