Over recent decades, regions of West and Central Africa have experienced different and significant changes in climatic patterns, which have significantly impacted hydrological regimes. Such impacts, however, are not fully understood at the regional scale, largely because of scarce hydroclimatic data. Therefore, the aim of this study is to (a) assemble a new, robust, reconstructed streamflow dataset of 152 gauging stations; (b) quantify changes in streamflow over 1950 – 2005 period, using these newly reconstructed datasets; (c) significantly reveal trends and variability in streamflow over West and Central Africa based on new reconstructions; and (d) assess the robustness of this dataset by comparing the results with those identified in key climatic drivers (e.g. precipitation and temperature) over the region. Gap filling methods applied to monthly time series (1950-2005) yielded robust results (median Kling-Gupta Efficiency >0.75). The study underlines a good agreement between precipitation and streamflow trends and reveals contrasts between western Africa (negative trends) and Central Africa (positive trends) in the 1950s and 1960s. Homogenous dry conditions of the 1970s and 1980s, characterized by reduced significant negative trends resulting from quasi-decadal modulations of the trend, are replaced by wetter conditions in the recent period (1993-2005). The effect of this rainfall recovery (which extends to West and Central Africa) on increased river flows are further amplified by land use change in some Sahelian basins. This is partially offset, however, by higher potential evapotranspiration rates over parts of Niger and Nigeria. Crucially, the new reconstructed streamflow datasets presented here will be available for both the scientific community and water resource managers.
Bibliographical noteNOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Hydrology. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Hydrology, [(in press), (2018)] DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2018.04.024
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- West and Central Africa
- Streamflow trend and variability
- Hydroclimate variability
- Multi-temporal trend identification
- Gap filling methods