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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 14, issue 12 | Copyright
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 14, 2671-2679, 2010
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-14-2671-2010
© Author(s) 2010. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  22 Dec 2010

22 Dec 2010

Investigating changes over time of annual rainfall in Zimbabwe

D. Mazvimavi D. Mazvimavi
  • Institute for Water Studies, University of the Western Cape, Private Bag X17, Bellville, 7535, South Africa

Abstract. There is increasing concern in southern Africa about the possible decline of rainfall as a result of global warming. Some studies concluded that average rainfall in Zimbabwe had declined by 10% or 100 mm during the last 100 years. This paper investigates the validity of the assumption that rainfall is declining in Zimbabwe. Time series of annual rainfall, and total rainfall for (a) the early part of the rainy season, October-November-December (OND), and (b) the mid to end of the rainy season, January-February-March (JFM) are analysed for the presence of trends using the Mann-Kendall test, and for the decline or increase during years with either high or low rainfall using quantile regression analysis. The Pettitt test has also been utilized to examine the possible existence of change or break-points in the rainfall time series. The analysis has been done for 40 rainfall stations with records starting during the 1892–1940 period and ending in 2000, and representative of all the rainfall regions.

The Mann-Kendal test did not identify a significant trend at all the 40 stations, and therefore there is no proof that the average rainfall at each of these stations has changed. Quantile regression analysis revealed a decline in annual rainfall less than the tenth percentile at only one station, and increasing of rainfall greater than the ninetieth percentile at another station. All the other stations had no changes over time in both the low and high rainfall at the annual interval. Climate change effects are therefore not yet statistically significant within time series of total seasonal and annual rainfall in Zimbabwe. The general perception about declining rainfall is likely due to the presence of multidecadal variability characterized by bunching of years with above (e.g. 1951–1958, 1973–1980) and below (e.g. 1959–1972, 1982–1994 ) average rainfall.

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