Orographic Enhancement of Rainfall Over the Congo Basin

Ajay Raghavendra, Geng Xia, Liming Zhou, Yan Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus Citations


The Congo rainforest located in central equatorial Africa is an important, yet understudied part of the globe surrounded by complex orographic features. A primitive understanding of precipitation processes such as mesoscale convective dynamics magnifies uncertainties in the future climate projections of the hydrological cycle over the Congo. Furthermore, the effects of orography, which is an important forcing for convection and precipitation, are poorly resolved by climate models, and ill-conceptualized over the Congo. To address this knowledge gap, perturbed orographic forcing experiments are conducted using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) mesoscale numerical model in a high-resolution convection-permitting model setup. The model simulated selected dates in November 2014. The thunderstorms and rainfall simulated in the control run for the case study analyzed in this article compared reasonably well to satellite-derived brightness temperature and rainfall data. The results from this case study show that the dynamical impact of increasing the height of the East African Highlands is the blocking of the lower-tropospheric tropical easterlies. This weakening of the lower-tropospheric zonal winds increases the windshear over the Congo Basin resulting in slower propagating, more intense mesoscale convective systems with enhanced rainfall.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere1079
Number of pages14
JournalAtmospheric Science Letters
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Atmospheric Science Letters published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Royal Meteorological Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-81966


  • Congo rainforest
  • orographic forcing
  • tropical convection
  • WRF model


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