Variation of October to December rainfall in Tanzania and its association with sea surface temperature


Rainfall variability during short rains from October to December (OND) leaves the country vulnerable to floods and droughts. This study used statistical analysis methods (Empirical Orthogonal Function EOF, Singular Value Decomposition SVD, Composite and Correlation analysis) to investigate the variability of OND rainfall and its association to Sea Surface Temperature (SST) and how the extreme weather events have been influenced by SSTs. The study showed that the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) events have a wider and stronger impact on OND rainfall variability over Tanzania than the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events with a significant correlation coefficient value of r = 0.77 against r = 0.48, respectively. Analysis revealed that the year of 2015 received less rainfall than that of 1997 even though it had stronger Niño 3.4 signal than that of 1997 due to neutral state conditions of IOD events in 2015 which is associated by weak easterly winds advecting moist air towards the region. The study shows that the area received above average rainfall when El Niño and positive phase of IOD events occurred simultaneously like that of 1997. The rainfall pattern varies to large extent due to SST variability over the western and eastern Indian Ocean. The variability of SST anomalies observed over the western and southeastern Indian Ocean captured the IOD pattern in the first and second SVD mode. Findings of this study will improve our understanding of the occurrence of extreme events, monitoring and issuing early warning of extreme weather events.

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The authors are grateful to the Tanzania Meteorological Authority (TMA), NCEP/ NCAR Reanalysis data, ERSST for providing the datasets used in this study. The author also thanks World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC) for the financial support to undertake MSc in Meteorology at Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology (NUIST), P. R, China and including NUIST for providing the required facilities for data analysis and all other form of supports.

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Correspondence to Paul Tilwebwa Shelleph Limbu.

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Kavishe, G.M., Limbu, P.T.S. Variation of October to December rainfall in Tanzania and its association with sea surface temperature. Arab J Geosci 13, 534 (2020).

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  • Tanzania
  • OND rainfall
  • Sea surface temperature
  • El Niño southern oscillation
  • Indian Ocean dipole