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Spatiotemporal characteristics of severe dry and wet conditions in the Free State Province, South Africa

Mbiriri, M., Mukwada, G., Manatsa, D.
Theoretical and applied climatology 2019 v.135 no.1-2 pp. 693-706
drought, rain, summer, South Africa
This paper assesses the spatiotemporal characteristics of agricultural droughts and wet conditions in the Free State Province of South Africa for the period between 1960 and 2013. Since agriculturally, the Free State Province is considered the bread basket of the country, understanding the variability of drought and wet conditions becomes necessary. The Standardised Precipitation Index (SPI) computed from gridded monthly precipitation data was used to assess the rainfall extreme conditions. Hot spot analysis was used to divide the province into five homogenous clusters where the spatiotemporal characteristics for each cluster were analysed. The results show a west to east increase in seasonal average total precipitation. However, the eastern part of the province demonstrates higher occurrences of droughts, with SPI ≤ − 1.282. This is despite the observation that the region shows a recent increase in droughts unlike the western region. It is also noted that significant differences in drought/wet intensities between clusters are more pronounced during the early compared to the late summer period.