Changes in Extreme Rainfall Events in South Africa
- Cite this article as:
- Mason, S.J., Waylen, P.R., Mimmack, G.M. et al. Climatic Change (1999) 41: 249. doi:10.1023/A:1005450924499
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Extreme rainfall events can have severe impacts on society, so possible long-term changes in the intensity of extreme events are of concern. Testing for long-term changes in the intensity of extreme events is complicated by data inhomogeneities resulting from site and instrumentation changes. Using rainfall data from stations in South Africa that have not involved site relocations, but which have not been tested for inhomogeneities resulting from changes in instrumentation, a method of testing for changes in the intensity of extreme events is adopted. Significant increases in the intensity of extreme rainfall events between 1931–1960 and 1961–1990 are identified over about 70% of the country. The intensity of the 10-year high rainfall events has increased by over 10% over large areas of the country, except in parts of the north-east, north-west and in the winter rainfall region of the south-west. Percentage increases in the intensity of high rainfall events are largest for the most extreme events. While some inhomogeneities remain in the data used, the observed changes in the intensity of extreme rainfall events over South Africa are thought to be at least partly real.