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Seasonal and intra-seasonal rainfall and drought characteristics as indicators of climate change and variability in Southern Africa: a focus on Kabwe and Livingstone in Zambia

Abstract

This paper addresses two fundamental questions on climate change and variability: to what extent has climate changed and/or varied over years in two districts of different agro-ecological regions or zones and how do any changes differ between the zones or districts? Given the rural-rural migration pattern observed between the districts, understanding climate change risk to rural livelihoods cannot be overemphasised. To assess change and variability, we utilise rainfall data-records over a 36-year period from 1980 to 2016. Results show that there are wide variations and differences within and between the districts. Evidence suggests a general reduction in both annual rainfall and wet days. There is also ground to suggest that the rainy season duration is becoming shorter, given that rainfall onset is increasingly starting late, while cessation is increasingly coming early. Dry spells frequency and duration trends within rainy season show an increase over the period examined. We conclude that local climate in both areas has changed over the period investigated. However, while Livingstone seems to have experienced more droughts and unreliable rainfall, Kabwe experienced a bigger change in both rainfall and rainy season duration. We further conclude that migrants into Kabwe and other inhabitants are not any safer from climate change risk.

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Correspondence to Cuthbert Casey Makondo.

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Makondo, C.C., Thomas, D.S.G. Seasonal and intra-seasonal rainfall and drought characteristics as indicators of climate change and variability in Southern Africa: a focus on Kabwe and Livingstone in Zambia. Theor Appl Climatol 140, 271–284 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00704-019-03029-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00704-019-03029-x

Keywords

  • Climate change risk
  • Climate variability
  • Ecosystem-dependent livelihoods
  • Disaster management
  • Science-policy interface