Assessing changes in the rainfall regime in Nigeria between 1961 and 2004
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The study assessed changes in the rainfall regime in Nigeria between 1961 and 2004 in terms of (a) absolute seasonality—the length of dry and wet season; (b) relative seasonality—rainfall contrast during the year; (c) number of rainfall maxima and minima; and (d) timing of rainfall maxima and minima. Trends in the mean monthly surface locations of the Inter-tropical Discontinuity (ITD) were also examined as a prominent factor of the rainfall regime. Changes in the regime were examined over four time slices: 1961–1971, 1972–1982, 1983–1993 and 1994–2004. The results show that, in the area of single rainfall maximum regime, the length of the wet season has increased from 4 months (in 1961–1971) to 5 months (since 1972–1982). The rainfall relative seasonality has consistently been ‘most rain in 3 months or less’. The rainfall maxima still indicate single rainfall maximum but shift in the peak from August to July. Rainfall during the months of June to September appears to have witnessed declining trends over the first three time slices. The last time slice however indicates trends towards a wetter condition. For the area of double maxima rainfall regime, the length of the wet season has consistently been 8 months. The rainfall relative seasonality has consistently been ‘rather seasonal with a short drier season’. The rainfall maxima and minima still indicate double rainfall maxima with August as the month of the minimum but shift in the primary peak from July to September. The northward latitudinal distance of the surface location of the ITD from the equator indicates significant upward trends during the months of May to September only and for a period of 1983–2000. The trend results of the ITD appears to account for most of the observed changes in the rainfall regime in Nigeria.
KeywordsDouble rainfall maxima regime Inter-tropical Discontinuity (ITD) Nigeria Rainfall absolute seasonality Rainfall regime Rainfall relative seasonality Single rainfall maximum regime
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