Stockholms universitet

Ellen BerntellDoktorand

Om mig

Min forskning fokuserar på monsun- och nederbördsvariabilitet i Västafrika, och syftar till att undersöka monsunvariabiliteten från dåtid till framtid, öka förståelsen för hur den Västafrikanska monsunen svarar på olika krafter samt undersöka återkopplingar mellan monsunen och andra fysikaliska processer. Vi använder främst data från simuleringar gjorda med jordsystemmodellen EC-Earth, men även från andra modeller, paleoklimatologiska rekonstruktioner och observationer.



  • Simulating green Sahara with an earth system model, 2018-2021, Vetenskapsrådet
  • Past-present-future monsoon variability revealed by stable water isotopes, 2018-2020, Vetenskapsrådet


I urval från Stockholms universitets publikationsdatabas

  • Representation of Multidecadal Sahel Rainfall Variability in 20th Century Reanalyses

    2018. Ellen Berntell (et al.). Scientific Reports 8


    Summer rainfall in the Sahel region has exhibited strong multidecadal variability during the 20th century causing dramatic human and socio-economic impacts. Studies have suggested that the variability is linked to the Atlantic multidecadal variability; a spatially persistent pattern of warm/cold sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic. In the last few years, several promising century-long reanalysis datasets have been made available, opening up for further studies into the dynamics inducing the observed low-frequency rainfall variability in Sahel. We find that although three of the 20th century ECMWF reanalyses show clear multidecadal rainfall variability with extended wet and dry periods, the timing of the multidecadal variability in two of these reanalyses is found to exhibit almost anti-phase features for a large part of the 20th century when compared to observations. The best representation of the multidecadal rainfall variability is found in the ECMWF reanalysis that, unlike the other reanalyses (including NOAA's 20th century), do not assimilate any observations and may well be a critical reason for this mismatch, as discussed herein. This reanalysis, namely ERA-20CM, is thus recommended for future studies on the dynamics driving the multidecadal rainfall variability in Sahel and its linkages to the low-frequency North Atlantic oceanic temperatures.

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  • Understanding the variability of the rainfall dipole in West Africa using the EC-Earth last millennium simulation

    2021. Qiong Zhang (et al.). Climate Dynamics 57, 93-107


    There is a well-known mode of rainfall variability associating opposite hydrological conditions over the Sahel region and the Gulf of Guinea, forming a dipole pattern. Previous meteorological observations show that the dipole pattern varies at interannual timescales. Using an EC-Earth climate model simulation for last millennium (850-1850 CE), we investigate the rainfall variability in West Africa over longer timescales. The 1000-year-long simulation data show that this rainfall dipole presents at decadal to multidecadal and centennial variability and long-term trend. Using the singular value decomposition (SVD) analysis, we identified that the rainfall dipole present in the first SVD mode with 60% explained variance and associated with the variabilities in tropical Atlantic sea surface temperature (SST). The second SVD mode shows a monopole rainfall variability pattern centred over the Sahel, associated with the extra-tropical Atlantic SST variability. We conclude that the rainfall dipole-like pattern is a natural variability mode originated from the local ocean-atmosphere-land coupling in the tropical Atlantic basin. The warm SST anomalies in the equatorial Atlantic Ocean favour an anomalous low pressure at the tropics. This low pressure weakens the meridional pressure gradient between the Saharan Heat Low and the tropical Atlantic. It leads to anomalous northeasterly, reduces the southwesterly moisture flux into the Sahel and confines the Gulf of Guinea's moisture convergence. The influence from extra-tropical climate variability, such as Atlantic multidecadal oscillation, tends to modify the rainfall dipole pattern to a monopole pattern from the Gulf of Guinea to Sahara through influencing the Sahara heat low. External forcing-such as orbital forcing, solar radiation, volcanic and land-use-can amplify/dampen the dipole mode through thermal forcing and atmosphere dynamical feedback.

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  • Mid-Pliocene West African Monsoon rainfall as simulated in the PlioMIP2 ensemble

    2021. Ellen Berntell (et al.). Climate of the Past 17 (4), 1777-1794


    The mid-Pliocene warm period (mPWP; ∼3.2 million years ago) is seen as the most recent time period characterized by a warm climate state, with similar to modern geography and ∼400 ppmv atmospheric CO2 concentration, and is therefore often considered an interesting analogue for near-future climate projections. Paleoenvironmental reconstructions indicate higher surface temperatures, decreasing tropical deserts, and a more humid climate in West Africa characterized by a strengthened West African Monsoon (WAM). Using model results from the second phase of the Pliocene Modelling Intercomparison Project (PlioMIP2) ensemble, we analyse changes of the WAM rainfall during the mPWP by comparing them with the control simulations for the pre-industrial period. The ensemble shows a robust increase in the summer rainfall over West Africa and the Sahara region, with an average increase of 2.5 mm/d, contrasted by a rainfall decrease over the equatorial Atlantic. An anomalous warming of the Sahara and deepening of the Saharan Heat Low, seen in >90 % of the models, leads to a strengthening of the WAM and an increased monsoonal flow into the continent. A similar warming of the Sahara is seen in future projections using both phase 3 and 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP3 and CMIP5). Though previous studies of future projections indicate a west–east drying–wetting contrast over the Sahel, PlioMIP2 simulations indicate a uniform rainfall increase in that region in warm climates characterized by increasing greenhouse gas forcing. We note that this effect will further depend on the long-term response of the vegetation to the CO2 forcing.

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  • Impacts of Large-Scale Sahara Solar Farms on Global Climate and Vegetation Cover

    2021. Zhengyao Lu (et al.). Geophysical Research Letters 48 (2)


    Large-scale photovoltaic solar farms envisioned over the Sahara desert can meet the world's energy demand while increasing regional rainfall and vegetation cover. However, adverse remote effects resulting from atmospheric teleconnections could offset such regional benefits. We use state-of-the-art Earth-system model simulations to evaluate the global impacts of Sahara solar farms. Our results indicate a redistribution of precipitation causing Amazon droughts and forest degradation, and global surface temperature rise and sea-ice loss, particularly over the Arctic due to increased polarward heat transport, and northward expansion of deciduous forests in the Northern Hemisphere. We also identify reduced El Nino-Southern Oscillation and Atlantic Nino variability and enhanced tropical cyclone activity. Comparison to proxy inferences for a wetter and greener Sahara similar to 6,000 years ago appears to substantiate these results. Understanding these responses within the Earth system provides insights into the site selection concerning any massive deployment of solar energy in the world's deserts. Plain Language Summary Solar energy can contribute to the attainment of global climate mitigation goals by reducing reliance on fossil fuel energy. It is proposed that massive solar farms in the Sahara desert (e.g., 20% coverage) can produce energy enough for the world's consumption, and at the same time more rainfall and the recovery of vegetation in the desert. However, by employing an advanced Earth-system model (coupled atmosphere, ocean, sea-ice, terrestrial ecosystem), we show the unintended remote effects of Sahara solar farms on global climate and vegetation cover through shifted atmospheric circulation. These effects include global temperature rise, particularly over the Arctic; the redistribution of precipitation (most notably droughts and forest degradation in the Amazon) and northward shift of the Intertropical Convergence Zone; the northward expansion of deciduous forests in the Northern Hemisphere; and the weakened El Nino-Southern Oscillation and Atlantic Nino variability and enhanced tropical cyclone activity. All these remote effects are in line with the global impacts of the Sahara land-cover transition similar to 6,000 years ago when Sahara desert was wetter and greener. The improved understanding of the forcing mechanisms of massive Sahara solar farms can be helpful for the future site selection of large-scale desert solar energy facilities. Key Points . A set of state-of-the-art Earth-system model simulations are used to study the impacts of large-scale (20% coverage or more) Sahara solar farms These hypothetical solar farms increase local rainfall and vegetation cover through positive atmosphere-land(albedo)-vegetation feedbacks Conveyed by atmospheric teleconnections, the Sahara solar farms can induce remote responses in global climate and vegetation cover

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  • Simulating the mid-Holocene, last interglacial and mid-Pliocene climate with EC-Earth3-LR

    2021. Qiong Zhang (et al.). Geoscientific Model Development 14 (2), 1147-1169


    As global warming is proceeding due to rising greenhouse gas concentrations, the Earth system moves towards climate states that challenge adaptation. Past Earth system states are offering possible modelling systems for the global warming of the coming decades. These include the climate of the mid-Pliocene (similar to 3 Ma), the last interglacial (similar to 129-116 ka) and the mid-Holocene (similar to 6 ka). The simulations for these past warm periods are the key experiments in the Paleoclimate Model Intercomparison Project (PMIP) phase 4, contributing to phase 6 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6). Paleoclimate modelling has long been regarded as a robust out-of-sample test bed of the climate models used to project future climate changes. Here, we document the model setup for PMIP4 experiments with EC-Earth3-LR and present the large-scale features from the simulations for the mid-Holocene, the last interglacial and the mid-Pliocene. Using the pre-industrial climate as a reference state, we show global temperature changes, large-scale Hadley circulation and Walker circulation, polar warming, global monsoons and the climate variability modes - El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). EC-Earth3-LR simulates reasonable climate responses during past warm periods, as shown in the other PMIP4-CMIP6 model ensemble. The systematic comparison of these climate changes in past three warm periods in an individual model demonstrates the model's ability to capture the climate response under different climate forcings, providing potential implications for confidence in future projections with the EC-Earth model.

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