The Climatology of Madagascar

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Abstract

Over a territory of 587,000 square kilometres with a north-south extension of over 1500 km, with physical features comprising low-lying coastal plains, mountains exceeding 2500 metres in height and areas of medium altitude ranging between 800 and 1500 metres closely juxtaposed, it will be readily understood that wide climatic diversity can exist. Of course, by virtue of its position, Madagascar is dominated by tropical weather features, the major influence being the trade wind. However, the island is also the meeting place, and hence the point of conflict, of various influences, some originating from low latitudes and others from the temperate and subpolar regions. The interplay of the large peripheral centres of action and the character of the air masses traversing the country are profoundly disturbed by the geographical conditions of the country. It is necessary to examine the climatic mechanisms from this viewpoint before embarking on a study of the regional differences. This study will illustrate the great diversity of climates, a diversity which is evident as much in the context of a separative analysis of the fundamental meteorological elements as in that of an attempt at an overall synthesis of these elements to give a true picture of the climate through the seasons.