Spatial and temporal analysis of the mid-summer dry spells for the summer rainfall region of South Africa

  • MG Mengistu 1. South African Weather Service, Private Bag X097, Centurion, South Africa; 2. School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
  • C Olivier South African Weather Service, Private Bag X097, Centurion, South Africa
  • JO Botai 1. South African Weather Service, Private Bag X097, Centurion, South Africa; 2. School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa; 3. Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
  • AM Adeola 1. South African Weather Service, Private Bag X097, Centurion, South Africa; 3. Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; 4. UP Institute for Sustainable Malaria Control, School for Health Systems and Public Health, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
  • S Daniel 1. South African Weather Service, Private Bag X097, Centurion, South Africa; 2. School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Keywords: pentad rainfall, mid-summer, dry spells, Markov chain model, South Africa

Abstract

South Africa is frequently subjected to severe droughts and dry spells during the rainy season. As such, rainfall is one of the most significant factors limiting dryland crop production in South Africa. The mid-summer period is particularly important for agriculture since a lack of rain during this period negatively affects crop yields. Dry spell frequency analyses are used to investigate the impacts of sub-seasonal rainfall variability on crop yield, since seasonal rainfall totals alone do not explain the relationship between rainfall and crop yields. This study investigated the spatial and temporal occurrences of the mid-summer dry spells based on magnitude, length and time of occurrence in the major maize growing areas of the summer rainfall region of South Africa. Three thresholds of 5 mm, 10 mm, and 15 mm total rainfall for a pentad were used for the analysis of dry spells.  Dry spell analysis showed that dry pentads occur during mid-summer with differing intensity, duration and frequency across the summer rainfall region. Annual frequency of dry pentads for the mid-summer period ranged between 0 and 4 pentads for the 5 mm threshold and 1 to 7 for the 10 mm and 15 mm thresholds.  The non-parametric Mann-Kendall trend analysis of the dry pentads indicates that there is no significant trend in the frequency of dry spells at a 95% confidence level. The initial and conditional probabilities of getting a dry spell using the Markov chain model also showed that there is a 32% to 80% probability that a single pentad will be dry using the 15 mm threshold. There is a 5% to 48% probability of experiencing two consecutive dry pentads and 1% to 29% probability of getting three consecutive dry pentads. The duration and intensity of dry spells, as well as the Markov chain probabilities, showed a decrease in dry spells from west to east of the maize-growing areas of the summer rainfall region of South Africa.

Views
  • Abstract 175
  • PDF 64
Views and downloads are with effect from 11 January 2018
Published
2021-01-28
Section
Research paper