skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: South African droughts and decadal variability

Abstract

We explore the historical occurrence of extensive droughts over South Africa within the context of decadal climate variability. A Standardized Precipitation Index dataset is developed and used to assess the spatial extent of droughts in South Africa for the period 1920–2014. The most extensive droughts over the period at various time scales are identified and discussed. Results of a wavelet analysis are also presented towards identifying statistically significant regional climate variation with which the occurrence of droughts is associated. The occurrence of drought with respect to the El Niño Southern Oscillation and decadal climate variability is also considered. Significant associations between short-term droughts and decadal variability are pointed out. An overview of global sea surface temperature and Southern Hemisphere sea-level pressure associations with three prominent scales of multi-year climate variability is given. Dry epochs at the most prominent time scales are shown to be significantly negatively related to the Southern Annular Mode and associated sea surface temperature anomalies in the mid-to-high southern latitudes. Relations with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, Inter-Decadal Pacific Oscillation and ENSO, which are all associated with a Southern Annular Mode of opposite sign, are also highlighted.

Authors:
; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
OSTI Identifier:
1565421
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Journal Name:
Natural Hazards
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 80; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 0921-030X
Publisher:
Springer Nature
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
Geology; Meteorology & Atmospheric Sciences; Water Resources

Citation Formats

Malherbe, J., Dieppois, B., Maluleke, P., Van Staden, M., and Pillay, D. L. South African droughts and decadal variability. United States: N. p., 2015. Web. doi:10.1007/s11069-015-1989-y.
Malherbe, J., Dieppois, B., Maluleke, P., Van Staden, M., & Pillay, D. L. South African droughts and decadal variability. United States. doi:10.1007/s11069-015-1989-y.
Malherbe, J., Dieppois, B., Maluleke, P., Van Staden, M., and Pillay, D. L. Sat . "South African droughts and decadal variability". United States. doi:10.1007/s11069-015-1989-y.
@article{osti_1565421,
title = {South African droughts and decadal variability},
author = {Malherbe, J. and Dieppois, B. and Maluleke, P. and Van Staden, M. and Pillay, D. L.},
abstractNote = {We explore the historical occurrence of extensive droughts over South Africa within the context of decadal climate variability. A Standardized Precipitation Index dataset is developed and used to assess the spatial extent of droughts in South Africa for the period 1920–2014. The most extensive droughts over the period at various time scales are identified and discussed. Results of a wavelet analysis are also presented towards identifying statistically significant regional climate variation with which the occurrence of droughts is associated. The occurrence of drought with respect to the El Niño Southern Oscillation and decadal climate variability is also considered. Significant associations between short-term droughts and decadal variability are pointed out. An overview of global sea surface temperature and Southern Hemisphere sea-level pressure associations with three prominent scales of multi-year climate variability is given. Dry epochs at the most prominent time scales are shown to be significantly negatively related to the Southern Annular Mode and associated sea surface temperature anomalies in the mid-to-high southern latitudes. Relations with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, Inter-Decadal Pacific Oscillation and ENSO, which are all associated with a Southern Annular Mode of opposite sign, are also highlighted.},
doi = {10.1007/s11069-015-1989-y},
journal = {Natural Hazards},
issn = {0921-030X},
number = 1,
volume = 80,
place = {United States},
year = {2015},
month = {9}
}

Works referenced in this record:

A New Globally Complete Monthly Historical Gridded Mean Sea Level Pressure Dataset (HadSLP2): 1850–2004
journal, November 2006


ENSO, Pacific Decadal Variability, and U.S. Summertime Precipitation, Drought, and Stream Flow
journal, May 2001


Standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI) revisited: parameter fitting, evapotranspiration models, tools, datasets and drought monitoring
journal, December 2013

  • Beguería, Santiago; Vicente-Serrano, Sergio M.; Reig, Fergus
  • International Journal of Climatology, Vol. 34, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.1002/joc.3887

Subtropical SST dipole events in the southern Indian Ocean
journal, January 2001

  • Behera, Swadhin K.; Yamagata, Toshio
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 28, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1029/2000GL011451

An assessment of Canadian prairie drought: past, present, and future
journal, June 2012


Decadal predictions in demand
journal, March 2010


Observations of Large-Scale Ocean–Atmosphere Interaction in the Southern Hemisphere
journal, March 2008


Ocean Model Diagnosis of Low-Frequency Climate Variability in the South Atlantic Region
journal, March 2007

  • Colberg, Frank; Reason, C. J. C.
  • Journal of Climate, Vol. 20, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1175/JCLI4055.1

The Twentieth Century Reanalysis Project
journal, January 2011

  • Compo, G. P.; Whitaker, J. S.; Sardeshmukh, P. D.
  • Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, Vol. 137, Issue 654
  • DOI: 10.1002/qj.776

A Southern Hemisphere Wave Response to ENSO with Implications for Southern Africa Precipitation
journal, August 2001


A New Assessment of Possible Solar and Lunar Forcing of the Bidecadal Drought Rhythm in the Western United States
journal, June 1997


Evidence for 18.6 year M N signal in temperature and drought conditions in North America since AD 1800
journal, January 1981


Evidence for 18.6-yr MN term in Japanese air pressure and geophysical implications
journal, May 1982


On bistable phasing of 18.6 year nodal induced flood in India
journal, January 1984


Variance contribution of luni-solar and solar cycle signals in the St Lawrence and Nile river records
journal, October 1994


On the definition of droughts
journal, April 1980

  • Dracup, John A.; Lee, Kil Seong; Paulson, Edwin G.
  • Water Resources Research, Vol. 16, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1029/WR016i002p00297

Sea-surface temperature co-variability in the Southern Atlantic and Indian Oceans and its connections with the atmospheric circulation in the Southern Hemisphere
journal, January 2003

  • Fauchereau, N.; Trzaska, S.; Richard, Y.
  • International Journal of Climatology, Vol. 23, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1002/joc.905

Understanding the SAM influence on the South Pacific ENSO teleconnection
journal, September 2010


Regional climate impacts of the Southern Annular Mode
journal, January 2006

  • Gillett, N. P.; Kell, T. D.; Jones, P. D.
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 33, Issue 23
  • DOI: 10.1029/2006GL027721

Two Time Scales for The Price Of One (Almost)
journal, May 2012

  • Goddard, Lisa; Hurrell, James W.; Kirtman, Benjamin P.
  • Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 93, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-11-00220.1

Application of the cross wavelet transform and wavelet coherence to geophysical time series
journal, January 2004

  • Grinsted, A.; Moore, J. C.; Jevrejeva, S.
  • Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics, Vol. 11, Issue 5/6
  • DOI: 10.5194/npg-11-561-2004

Updated high-resolution grids of monthly climatic observations - the CRU TS3.10 Dataset: UPDATED HIGH-RESOLUTION GRIDS OF MONTHLY CLIMATIC OBSERVATIONS
journal, May 2013

  • Harris, I.; Jones, P. D.; Osborn, T. J.
  • International Journal of Climatology, Vol. 34, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1002/joc.3711

Monitoring the 1996 Drought Using the Standardized Precipitation Index
journal, March 1999


The climatology and characteristics of drought in the eastern Cape of South Africa
journal, September 1993

  • Jury, Mark R.; Levey, Kevin
  • International Journal of Climatology, Vol. 13, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1002/joc.3370130604

Characteristics of US drought and pluvials from a high-resolution spatial dataset
journal, January 2007

  • Kangas, Ryan S.; Brown, Timothy J.
  • International Journal of Climatology, Vol. 27, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.1002/joc.1473

Multi-decadal variability of drought risk, eastern Australia
journal, July 2004

  • Kiem, Anthony S.; Franks, Stewart W.
  • Hydrological Processes, Vol. 18, Issue 11
  • DOI: 10.1002/hyp.1460

Observed Relationships between the El Niño–Southern Oscillation and the Extratropical Zonal-Mean Circulation
journal, January 2006

  • L’Heureux, Michelle L.; Thompson, David W. J.
  • Journal of Climate, Vol. 19, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1175/JCLI3617.1

South African rainfall, the Southern Oscillation and a Southern Hemisphere semi-annual cycle
journal, January 1988


A drought climatology for Europe
journal, January 2002

  • Lloyd-Hughes, Benjamin; Saunders, Mark A.
  • International Journal of Climatology, Vol. 22, Issue 13
  • DOI: 10.1002/joc.846

The bi-decadal rainfall cycle, Southern Annular Mode and tropical cyclones over the Limpopo River Basin, southern Africa
journal, January 2014

  • Malherbe, Johan; Landman, Willem A.; Engelbrecht, Francois A.
  • Climate Dynamics, Vol. 42, Issue 11-12
  • DOI: 10.1007/s00382-013-2027-y

Climatic variability and change over southern Africa: a reflection on underlying processes
journal, March 1997

  • Mason, S. J.; Jury, M. R.
  • Progress in Physical Geography: Earth and Environment, Vol. 21, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1177/030913339702100103

Contrasting meteorological structure of intra-seasonal wet and dry spells in Zimbabwe
journal, March 1992

  • Matarira, Caxton H.; Jury, Mark R.
  • International Journal of Climatology, Vol. 12, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1002/joc.3370120205

Perennial plant mortality in the Sonoran and Mojave deserts in response to severe, multi-year drought
journal, August 2010


Decadal Climate Information Needs of Stakeholders for Decision Support in Water and Agriculture Production Sectors: A Case Study in the Missouri River Basin
journal, January 2013

  • Mehta, Vikram M.; Knutson, Cody L.; Rosenberg, Norman J.
  • Weather, Climate, and Society, Vol. 5, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1175/WCAS-D-11-00063.1

Dry summers over northeastern South Africa and associated circulation anomalies
journal, January 2003

  • Mulenga, Hm; Rouault, M.; Reason, Cjc
  • Climate Research, Vol. 25
  • DOI: 10.3354/cr025029

The quasi-periodic behavior of rainfall variability in Africa and its relationship to the southern oscillation
journal, September 1986

  • Nicholson, Sharon E.; Entekhabi, Dara
  • Archives for Meteorology, Geophysics, and Bioclimatology Series A, Vol. 34, Issue 3-4
  • DOI: 10.1007/BF02257765

The Relationship of the el NiÑO–Southern Oscillation to African Rainfall
journal, February 1997


Relationships between the Antarctic Oscillation, the Madden–Julian Oscillation, and ENSO, and Consequences for Rainfall Analysis
journal, January 2010


Remote Effects of El Niño and Modoki Events on the Austral Summer Precipitation of Southern Africa
journal, May 2014


Modification of the southern African rainfall variability/ENSO relationship since the late 1960s
journal, November 2000


20th century droughts in southern Africa: spatial and temporal variability, teleconnections with oceanic and atmospheric conditions
journal, January 2001

  • Richard, Yves; Fauchereau, Nicolas; Poccard, Isabelle
  • International Journal of Climatology, Vol. 21, Issue 7
  • DOI: 10.1002/joc.656

Global and Regional Scale Precipitation Patterns Associated with the El Niño/Southern Oscillation
journal, August 1987


Intensity and spatial extent of droughts in southern Africa
journal, January 2005


Improvements to NOAA’s Historical Merged Land–Ocean Surface Temperature Analysis (1880–2006)
journal, May 2008

  • Smith, Thomas M.; Reynolds, Richard W.; Peterson, Thomas C.
  • Journal of Climate, Vol. 21, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.1175/2007JCLI2100.1

Statistical characteristics of gravity waves observed by an all-sky imager at Darwin, Australia
journal, January 2004


Decadal prediction of Colorado River streamflow anomalies using ocean-atmosphere teleconnections: PREDICTING DECADAL STREAMFLOW
journal, December 2011

  • Switanek, Matthew B.; Troch, Peter A.
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 38, Issue 23
  • DOI: 10.1029/2011GL049644

A Practical Guide to Wavelet Analysis
journal, January 1998


Secular changes in South African rainfall: 1880 to 1972
journal, October 1975

  • Tyson, P. D.; Dyer, T. G. J.; Mametse, M. N.
  • Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, Vol. 101, Issue 430
  • DOI: 10.1002/qj.49710143008

Millennial to multi-decadal variability in the climate of southern Africa
journal, January 2002

  • Tyson, P. D.; Cooper, G. R. J.; McCarthy, T. S.
  • International Journal of Climatology, Vol. 22, Issue 9
  • DOI: 10.1002/joc.787

The southern oscillation and South African summer rainfall
journal, November 1988

  • Van Heerden, Johan; Terblanche, Deon E.; Schulze, Gerhard C.
  • Journal of Climatology, Vol. 8, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1002/joc.3370080603

Atmosphere–Ocean Coupled Variability in the South Atlantic
journal, November 1997


A Multiscalar Drought Index Sensitive to Global Warming: The Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index
journal, April 2010

  • Vicente-Serrano, Sergio M.; Beguería, Santiago; López-Moreno, Juan I.
  • Journal of Climate, Vol. 23, Issue 7
  • DOI: 10.1175/2009JCLI2909.1

Moisture transport between the South Atlantic Ocean and southern Africa: relationships with summer rainfall and associated dynamics
journal, February 2008


“A Persistent Truth”—Reflections on Drought Risk Management in Southern Africa
journal, January 2010

  • Vogel, Coleen; Koch, Ingrid; Van Zyl, Koos
  • Weather, Climate, and Society, Vol. 2, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1175/2009WCAS1017.1

El Niño/Southern Oscillation behaviour since 1871 as diagnosed in an extended multivariate ENSO index (MEI.ext)
journal, April 2011

  • Wolter, Klaus; Timlin, Michael S.
  • International Journal of Climatology, Vol. 31, Issue 7
  • DOI: 10.1002/joc.2336

Global Precipitation: A 17-Year Monthly Analysis Based on Gauge Observations, Satellite Estimates, and Numerical Model Outputs
journal, November 1997


Decadal variability in the Southern Hemisphere
journal, January 2011

  • Yuan, Xiaojun; Yonekura, Emmi
  • Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 116, Issue D19
  • DOI: 10.1029/2011JD015673

The Mann-Kendall Test Modified by Effective Sample Size to Detect Trend in Serially Correlated Hydrological Series
journal, June 2004