Southern Africa Climate Over the Recent Decades: Description, Variability and Trends

Mathieu Rouault, Bastien Dieppois, Nele Tim, Birgit Hunicke, Eduardo Zorita

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South of 15°S, southern Africa has a subtropical climate, which is affected by temperate and tropical weather systems and comes under the influence of the Southern Hemisphere high-pressure systems. Most rainfall occurs in austral summer, but the southwest experiences winter rainfall. Much of the precipitation in summer is of convective origin forced by large-scale dynamics. There is a marked diurnal cycle in rainfall in summer. The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) influences interannual rainfall variability. In austral summer, drought tends to occur during El Niño, while above-normal rainfall conditions tend to follow La Niña. During El Niño, higher than normal atmospheric pressure anomalies, detrimental to rainfall, occur due to changes in the global atmospheric circulation. This also weakens the moisture transport from the Indian Ocean to the continent. The opposite mechanisms happen during La Niña. On top of the variability related to ENSO, the Pacific Ocean also influences the decadal variability of rainfall. Additionally, the Angola Current, the Agulhas Current, the Mozambique Channel and the southwest Indian Ocean affect rainfall variability. Over the last 40 to 60 years, near-surface temperatures have increased over almost the whole region, summer precipitation has increased south of 10°S, and winter precipitation has mostly decreased in South Africa. Meanwhile, the Agulhas Current and the Angola Current have warmed, and the Benguela Current has cooled.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSustainability of Southern African Ecosystems under Global Change
Subtitle of host publicationScience for Management and Policy Interventions
EditorsGraham P. von Maltitz, Guy F. Midgley, Jennifer Veitch, Christian Brümmer, Reimund P. Rötter, Finn A. Viehberg, Maik Veste
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-10948-5
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-10947-8, 978-3-031-10950-8
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2024

Publication series

NameEcological Studies (ECOSTUD)
PublisherSpringer, Cham
ISSN (Print)0070-8356
ISSN (Electronic)2196-971X

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