Climate Dynamics

, Volume 42, Issue 9–10, pp 2713–2726 | Cite as

Multi-proxy summer and winter precipitation reconstruction for southern Africa over the last 200 years

  • Raphael NeukomEmail author
  • David J. Nash
  • Georgina H. Endfield
  • Stefan W. Grab
  • Craig A. Grove
  • Clare Kelso
  • Coleen H. Vogel
  • Jens Zinke


This study presents the first consolidation of palaeoclimate proxy records from multiple archives to develop statistical rainfall reconstructions for southern Africa covering the last two centuries. State-of-the-art ensemble reconstructions reveal multi-decadal rainfall variability in the summer and winter rainfall zones. A decrease in precipitation amount over time is identified in the summer rainfall zone. No significant change in precipitation amount occurred in the winter rainfall zone, but rainfall variability has increased over time. Generally synchronous rainfall fluctuations between the two zones are identified on decadal scales, with common wet (dry) periods reconstructed around 1890 (1930). A strong relationship between seasonal rainfall and sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the surrounding oceans is confirmed. Coherence among decadal-scale fluctuations of southern African rainfall, regional SST, SSTs in the Pacific Ocean and rainfall in south-eastern Australia suggest SST-rainfall teleconnections across the southern hemisphere. Temporal breakdowns of the SST-rainfall relationship in the southern African regions and the connection between the two rainfall zones are observed, for example during the 1950s. Our results confirm the complex interplay between large-scale teleconnections, regional SSTs and local effects in modulating multi-decadal southern African rainfall variability over long timescales.


Precipitation reconstruction Southern Africa Palaeoclimate Climate dynamics Southern hemisphere 



RN and DN would like to thank the University of Brighton for funding to support this study. JZ was supported by an AIMS/CSIRO/UWA collaborative post-doctoral Fellowship.

Supplementary material

382_2013_1886_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (9.1 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 9293 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raphael Neukom
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • David J. Nash
    • 3
    • 4
  • Georgina H. Endfield
    • 5
  • Stefan W. Grab
    • 4
  • Craig A. Grove
    • 6
  • Clare Kelso
    • 7
  • Coleen H. Vogel
    • 8
  • Jens Zinke
    • 9
    • 10
  1. 1.Oeschger Centre for Climate Change ResearchUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSLBirmensdorfSwitzerland
  3. 3.School of Environment and TechnologyUniversity of BrightonBrightonUK
  4. 4.School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental StudiesUniversity of the Witwatersrand (Wits)JohannesburgSouth Africa
  5. 5.School of GeographyUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK
  6. 6.Department of Marine GeologyNIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea ResearchDen Burg, TexelThe Netherlands
  7. 7.Department of Geography, Environmental Management and Energy StudiesUniversity of JohannesburgAuckland ParkSouth Africa
  8. 8.Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and MeteorologyUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  9. 9.School of Earth and EnvironmentUniversity of Western Australia Oceans InstituteCrawleyAustralia
  10. 10.Australian Institute of Marine ScienceNedlandsAustralia

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