Rachel White (Imperial College, London, UK): "The Extent of the Congo River influence"

12:00 Meeting Room, IC3
C/ Doctor Trueta, 203
08005 Barcelona

Sea surface temperatures in the eastern Atlantic, in particular in the Atlantic cold tongue, are strongly coupled to the West African monsoon, with SST anomalies affecting African precipitation. Anomalous warming in the Atlantic cold tongue, known as Atlantic Ninos, may even impact on atmospheric circulation in the extratropics. SSTs in the African coastal region of the cold tongue are notoriously difficult to simulate accurately, particularly in coupled models due to the strong atmosphere-ocean coupling in this region. In this work we aim to further understanding of the dynamics of this region by looking at how Congo River flow may couple with Atlantic SSTs.

Previous research (Materia2012) has found an observational correlation between high Congo River outflow and high SSTs in the eastern equatorial Atlantic (EEA). In this work we aim to quantify the geographical extent of the Congo river influence on the EEA through use of a dynamical regional ocean model (ROMS). With this approach we can establish how much of the statistical correlation observed by Materia2012 is the direct influence of the Congo river outflow, and how much may be due to other influences such as surface wind stress, or surface freshwater input by precipitation. If the Congo river influence extends to 20W as suggested by Materia2012 then the dynamics of Congo river discharge may be an additional mechanism that must be considered when studying the ACT variability.
Rachel received her undergraduate and Masters degrees in Physical Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge before coming to Imperial College London to study for her PhD. She received her doctorate in 2012 with a thesis studying the regional simulation of precipitation and runoff, with a focus on a South African river basin. She is now a post-doctoral researcher at Imperial College, with work including methods for improving biases in regional climate models and the study of ocean-atmospheric feedbacks in the region of equatorial Africa.