Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 112, Issue 3–4, pp 535–551 | Cite as

Recent drought and precipitation tendencies in Ethiopia

  • Ellen VisteEmail author
  • Diriba Korecha
  • Asgeir Sorteberg
Original Paper


In 2011, drought in the Horn of Africa again made news headlines. This study aims to quantify the meteorological component of this and other drought episodes in Ethiopia since 1971. A monthly precipitation data set for 14 homogeneous rainfall zones was constructed based on 174 gauges, and the standardized precipitation index was calculated on seasonal, annual, and biannual time scales. The results point to 2009 as a year of exceptionally widespread drought. All zones experienced drought at the annual scale, although in most zones, previous droughts were more extreme. Nationally, 2009 was the second driest year, surpassed only by the historic year 1984. Linear regression analysis indicates a precipitation decline in southern Ethiopia, during both February–May and June–September. In central and northern Ethiopia, the analysis did not provide evidence of similar tendencies. However, spring droughts have occurred more frequently in all parts of Ethiopia during the last 10–15 years.


Standardize Precipitation Index Rift Valley Global Precipitation Climatology Project Central Highland Drought Episode 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work has been carried out with support from the University of Bergen. It has also received support from the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research and the Ethiopian Malaria Prediction System project funded by the Norwegian Programme for Development, Research and Education (NUFU). We thank the National Meteorological Agency of Ethiopia for providing the precipitation data, Tagel Gebrehiwot for valuable information about the data, and an anonymous reviewer for constructive suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ellen Viste
    • 1
    Email author
  • Diriba Korecha
    • 1
    • 2
  • Asgeir Sorteberg
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Geophysical InstituteUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  2. 2.National Meteorological AgencyAddis AbabaEthiopia
  3. 3.Bjerknes Centre for Climate ResearchUniversity of BergenBergenNorway

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