Studying the large-scale relationships between climate and agriculture raises two different issues: the impact of climate on crops, and the potential feedbacks to climate from croplands. A relevant and consistent framework to address this twofold issue is to extend existing Dynamic Global Vegetation Models, which can be coupled to climate models, in order to explicitly account for croplands. Here we present the first results of such a strategy applied to tropical croplands over West Africa. We introduce into the terrestrial biosphere model ORCHIDEE (IPSL) adequate processes and parameterisations taken from the crop model SARRAH (CIRAD), which is calibrated for millet over this region. The resulting model, ORCH-mil, realistically simulates the growth and yield of millet when tested on an experimental station in Senegal. The model is then applied over West Africa using a 36-year climate reanalysis dataset. First the model is tested in terms of yield simulation, against national millet yields from the FAO database. The ability of the model to reproduce the spatial and temporal variability of millet yields is assessed. Then, the effects on land surface fluxes of explicitly accounting for croplands are examined: significant differences between ORCH-mil and ORCHIDEE appear, through changes in sensible and latent heat fluxes, surface albedo, and water resources. These differences encompass a potential impact on the monsoon system, mainly during the retreat of monsoon rains.
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