A one-year study of the diurnal cycle of meteorology, clouds and radiation in the West African Sahel region

Allison B. Collow, Virendra P. Ghate, Mark A. Miller, Lynne C. Trabachino

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8 Scopus citations


The diurnal cycles of meteorological and radiation variables are analysed during the wet and dry seasons over the Sahel region of West Africa during 2006 using surface data collected by the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) programme's Mobile Facility, satellite radiation measurements from the Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget (GERB) instrument aboard Meteosat 8, and reanalysis products from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). The meteorological analysis builds upon past studies of the diurnal cycle in the region by incorporating diurnal cycles of lower tropospheric wind profiles, thermodynamic profiles, integrated water vapour and liquid water measurements, and cloud radar measurements of frequency and location. These meteorological measurements are complemented by 3 h measurements of the diurnal cycles of the top-of-atmosphere (TOA) and surface short-wave (SW) and long-wave (LW) radiative fluxes and cloud radiative effects (CREs), and the atmospheric radiative flux divergence (RFD) and atmospheric CREs. Cirrus cloudiness during the dry season is shown to peak in coverage in the afternoon, while convective clouds during the wet season are shown to peak near dawn and have an afternoon minimum related to the rise of the lifting condensation level into the Saharan Air Layer. The LW and SW RFDs and CREs exhibit diurnal cycles during both seasons, but there is a relatively small difference in the LW cycles during the two seasons (10 - 30 W m-2 depending on the variable and time of day). Small differences in the TOA CREs during the two seasons are overwhelmed by large differences in the surface SW CREs, which exceed 100 W m-2. A significant surface SW CRE during the wet season combined with a negligible TOA SW CRE produces a diurnal cycle in the atmospheric CRE that is modulated primarily by the SW surface CRE, peaks at midday at ∼150 W m-2, and varies widely from day to day.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-29
Number of pages14
JournalQuarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society
Issue number694
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


  • Cloud radiative effect
  • Diurnal cycle
  • Lifting condensation level
  • Radiation budget
  • Radiative flux divergence
  • Saharan air layer
  • West african monsoon


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