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

Original Paper


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.



The authors acknowledge the support of the University of the Free State Afromontane Research Unit (ARU) for the financial support received. Appreciation is also given to the Climate Research Unit rainfall dataset that is made freely available on the Climate Explorer website.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of the Free StatePhuthaditjhabaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Afromontane Research UnitUniversity of the Free StatePhuthaditjhabaSouth Africa
  3. 3.Department of GeographyBindura University of Science EducationBinduraZimbabwe

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