Advertisement

Climatic Change

, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp 317–353 | Cite as

A Semi-Quantitative, Regional Precipitation Data Set for Studying African Climates of the Nineteenth Century, Part I. Overview of the Data Set

  • Sharon E. Nicholson
Article

Abstract

This article describes a historical archive of proxy and actual precipitation data that extends the African climate record back to the early nineteenth century. The `proxy' archive includes verbal, documentary references which contain information related to rainfall conditions, such as references to famine, drought, agriculture or the nature of the rainy season. The precipitation archive includes all observations made in Africa during the nineteenth century. It consists of records for 60 stations in Algeria, 87 stations in South Africa and 304 stations scattered over the rest of Africa. Information is particularly plentiful for the 1880s and 1890s. The two parts have been be combined into a semi-quantitative regional data set indicating annual rainfall conditions in terms of anomaly classes (e.g., normal, dry, wet). This data set extends from the early nineteenth century to 1900 and distinguishes seven anomaly classes, using numbers ranging from –3 to +3 to represent very wet, wet, good rains, normal, dry, drought, and severe drought. The regionalization is based on 90 geographical regions shown via studies of the modern precipitation record to be climatically homogeneous with respect to the interannual variability of rainfall. The regional aggregation allows the voluminous fragmentary information available in historical sources to be used systematically to produce multi-year time series that can be directly integrated into the modern record for each region. The resultant time series can also be subjected to statistical analysis, in order to investigate nineteenth century climate over Africa. Spatial detail is added to the data set by utilizing a unique methodology based on climatic teleconnections established from studies of rainfall variability over Africa. The historical information and station records have been combined into a file containing a regional anomaly value for up to 90 geographic regions and the years 1801–1900. Gaps necessarily remain in the matrix, but as early as the 1820s over 40 regions are represented. By the 1880s generally around 70 regions or more are represented.

Keywords

Nineteenth Century Rainfall Variability Rainfall Condition Early Nineteenth Century Regional Anomaly 
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.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Borius, A.: 1875, Recherches sur le climat du Sénégal, Gauthier Villars, Paris, p. 327.Google Scholar
  2. Borius, A.: 1879, Nouvelles recherches sur le climat du Sénégal, Gauthier Villars, Paris.Google Scholar
  3. Borius, A.: 1880, Recherches sur le climat des établissements français de la côte septentrionale du Golfe de Guinée, Gauthier Villars, Paris.Google Scholar
  4. Danckelmann, A.: 1884, Mémoire sur les observations météorologiques faites à Vivi et sur la climatologie de la côte Sud-Ouest d'Afrique en général, Asher and Co., Berlin.Google Scholar
  5. Diaz, H. F. and Markgraf, V. (eds.): 1992, El Niño: Historical and Paleoclimatic Aspects of the Southern Oscillation, Cambridge University Press, New York, p. 476.Google Scholar
  6. Dixey, F.: 1924, 'Lake Level in Relationship to Rainfall and Sunspots', Nature 114, 659–661.Google Scholar
  7. Fantoli, A.: 1952, Le Pioggie della Libia, Ministero dell'Africa Italiana, Rome, p. 529.Google Scholar
  8. Fantoli, A.: 1965a, Contributo alla climatologia dell'etiopia, Ministero Deglia Affari Esteri, Cooperazione Scientifica e Tecnica, Rome, p. 558.Google Scholar
  9. Fantoli, A.: 1965b, Contributo alla climatologia della Somalia, Ministero Deglia Affari Esteri, Cooperazione Scientifica e Tecnica, Rome, p. 478.Google Scholar
  10. Fantoli, A.: 1966, Contributo alla climatologia dell'Altopiano etiopico, Regione Eritrea, Ministero Deglia Affari Esteri, Cooperazione Scientifica e Tecnica, Rome, p. 230.Google Scholar
  11. Fantoli, A.: 1967, Contributo alla climatologia della Tripolitania, Ministero Deglia Affari Esteri, Cooperazione Scientifica e Tecnica, Rome, p. 640.Google Scholar
  12. Fantoli, A.: 1968, Contributo alla climatologia della Cirenaica, Ministero Deglia Affari Esteri, Cooperazione Scientifica e Tecnica, Rome, p. 489.Google Scholar
  13. Fantoli, A.: 1969: Contributo alla climatologia della regioni interne della Libia, Ministero Deglia Affari Esteri, Cooperazione Scientifica e Tecnica, Rome, p. 313.Google Scholar
  14. Fischer, T.: 1879, Studien über das Klima der Mittelmeerländer, Petermann'sMitt., Ergzänzungsheft No. 58, p. 64.Google Scholar
  15. Fitzner, R.: 1907, Regenverteilung in den deutschen Kolonien, Herman Paetel, Berlin, p. 57.Google Scholar
  16. Frauenberger, G.: 1906, 'Studien über die jährlichen Niederschlagsmengen des afrikanischen Kontinents', Petermanns Mitteilungen, 73–82.Google Scholar
  17. Ginestous, G.: 1901, Les pluies en Tunisie, Direction Générale de l'Enseignement Public, Service Météorologique, Imprimerie générale, Tunis.Google Scholar
  18. Ginestous, G.: 1903, Etudes sur le climat de la Tunisie, Tunis, p. 441.Google Scholar
  19. Halfman, J. and Johnson, T.: 1988, 'High-Resolution Record of Cyclic Change during the Past 4 Ka aLake Turkana, Kenya', Geology 16, 496–500.Google Scholar
  20. Heidke, P.: 1917, Mitt. deut. Schutzgebiet. 30, 197–210.Google Scholar
  21. Heidke, P.: 1920, 'Die Niederschlagsverhältnisse in Deutsch-Südwest Afrika', Mitt. deut. Schutzgebiet. 32, 136–186.Google Scholar
  22. Huffmann, G. J., Adler, R. F., Chang, A., Ferraro, R., Gruber, A., Janowiak, J., Joyce, R. J., McNab, A., Rudolf, B., Schneider, U., and Xie, P.: 1997, 'The Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) Combined Precipitation Dataset', Bull. Amer. Meteorol. Soc. 78, 5–20.Google Scholar
  23. Marquardsen, H.: 1917, 'Der gegenwärtige Stand der Klimatischen Erforschung Angolas', Mitt. deut. Schutzgebiet. 30, 330–338.Google Scholar
  24. Martinson, D. G., Bryan, K., Ghil, M., Hall, M. M., Karl, T. R., Sarachik, E. S., Sorooshian, S., and Talleys, L. D. (eds.): 1995, Natural Climate Variability on Decade-to-Century Time Scales, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., p. 630.Google Scholar
  25. Mikami, T. (ed.): 1992, Proceedings of the International Symposium on the Little Ice Age Climate, Tokyo.Google Scholar
  26. Miller, J.: 1982, 'The Significance of Drought, Disease and Famine in the Agriculturally Marginal Zones of West-Central Africa', J. Afr. Hist. 23, 17–61.Google Scholar
  27. Nicholson, S. E.: 1976, A Climatic Chronology for Africa: Synthesis of Geological, Historical, and Meteorological Informatoin and Data, Ph.D. Thesis, University of Wisconsin, Department of Meteorology, Madison, p. 324.Google Scholar
  28. Nicholson, S. E.: 1978, 'Climatic Variations in the Sahel and Other African Regions during the Past Five Centuries', J. Arid Environ. 1, 3–24.Google Scholar
  29. Nicholson, S. E.: 1979, 'The Methodology of Historical Climate Reconstruction and its Application to Africa', J. Afr. Hist. 2, 31–49.Google Scholar
  30. Nicholson, S. E.: 1980a, 'Saharan Climates in Historic Times', in Williams, M. A. J. and Faure, H. (eds.), The Sahara and the Nile, Balkema, Rotterdam, pp. 173–200.Google Scholar
  31. Nicholson, S. E.: 1980b, Study of Environmental and Climatic Changes in Africa during the Past Five Centuries, Final Report for NSF Granta ATM 77-21547, p. 155.Google Scholar
  32. Nicholson, S. E.: 1981, 'The Historical Climatology of Africa', in Wigley, T. M. L., Ingram, M. J., and Farmer, G. (eds.), Climate and History, Cambridge Press, U.K., pp. 249–270.Google Scholar
  33. Nicholson, S. E.: 1986, 'The Spatial Coherence of African Rainfall Anomalies: Interhemispheric Teleconnections', J. Clim. Appl. Meteorol. 25, 365–1381.Google Scholar
  34. Nicholson, S. E.: 1993, 'An Overview of African Rainfall Fluctuations of the Last Decade', J. Climate 6, 1463–1466.Google Scholar
  35. Nicholson, S. E.: 1995, 'Environmental Change within the Historical Period', in Goudie, A. S., Adams, W.M., and Orme, A. (eds.), The Physical Geography of Africa, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 60–75.Google Scholar
  36. Nicholson, S. E.: 1998a, 'Fluctuations of Rift Valley Lakes Malawi and Chilwa during Historical Times: A Synthesis of Geological, Archaeological and Historical Information', in Lehman, J. T. (ed.), Environmental Change and Response in East African Lakes, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp. 207–231.Google Scholar
  37. Nicholson, S. E.: 1998b, 'Fluctuations of Lake Victoria and Other Lakes in the Northern Rift Valley of East Africa', in Lehman, J. T. (ed.), Environmental Change and Response in East African Lakes, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp. 7–35.Google Scholar
  38. Nicholson, S. E.: 1999, 'Historical and Modern Fluctuations of Lakes Tanganyika and Rukwa and their Relationship to Rainfall Variability', Clim. Change 41, 53–71.Google Scholar
  39. Nicholson, S. E.: 'A Semi-Quantitative, Region Precipitation Data Set for Studying African Climates of the Nineteenth Century, Part II. Preliminary Analysis', Clim. Change, in preparation.Google Scholar
  40. Nicholson, S. E. and Yin, X.: 2001, 'Rainfall Conditions in Equatorial East Africa during the Nineteenth Century as Inferred from the Record of Lake Victoria', Clim. Change 48, 387–398.Google Scholar
  41. Nicholson, S. E., Kim, J., and Hoopingarner, J.: 1988, Atlas of African Rainfall and its Interannual Variability, Department of Meteorology, Florida State University, p. 237.Google Scholar
  42. Nicholson, S. E., Some, B., and Kone, I.: 2000, 'An Analysis of Recent Rainfall Conditions in West Africa, Including the Rainy Seasons of the 1997 El Niño and the 1998 La Niña Years', J. Climate 13, 2628–2640.Google Scholar
  43. Niehoff, K.: 1917, 'Oberflächengestaltung, Niederschlag und Abfluss des Niger und seiner Nachbargebiete', Mitt. deut. Schutzgebiet. 30, 339–403.Google Scholar
  44. ORSTOM: 1974a, Précipitations journalières de l'origine des stations à 1965, Organisation pour les Recherches Scientifiques et Techniques Outre Mer, Montpellier, France, 10 volumes (Gabon, Mali, Mauritanie, Dahomey, Togo, Côte d'Ivoire, Haute Volta, Sénégal, Niger, Tchad).Google Scholar
  45. ORSTOM: 1974b, Précipitations journalières de l'origine des stations à 1972, Cameroun. Organisation pour les Recherches Scientifiques et Techniques Outre Mer, Montpellier, France, 2 volumes.Google Scholar
  46. Owen, R. B., Crossley, R., Johnson, T. C., Tweddle, D., Kornfield, I., Davison, S., Eccles, D. H., and Engstrom, D. E.: 1990, 'Major Low Levels of Lake Malawi and their Implications for Speciation Rates in Cichlid Fishes', Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. 240, pp. 519–553.Google Scholar
  47. Peterson, T. C. and Griffiths, J. F.: 1997, 'Historical African Data', Bull. Amer. Meteorol. Soc. 78, 2869–2872.Google Scholar
  48. Raulin, V.: 1876, Observations pluviometriques faites dans l'Algérie, 1751–1870, Savy, Paris.Google Scholar
  49. Raulin, V.: 1882, Observations pluviometriques faites dans l'Algérie, 1871–1880, Savy, Paris.Google Scholar
  50. Ravenstein, E. G.: 1894, Report to the British Association.Google Scholar
  51. Rousseau, R.: 1935, 'Les pluies au Sénégal de 1887 à 1927', Bulletin du Comité d'études historiques et scientifiques de l'A.O.F. 14, Nos. 1–2, Larose, Paris, 1931, pp. 157–182.Google Scholar
  52. Schlikker, B.: 1915, 'Beitrag zu den Regenverhältnissen im küstennahen Gebiete von Deutsch-Ostafrika', Mitt. deut. Schutzgebiet. 28, 1–41.Google Scholar
  53. Shaw, P.: 1985, 'The Desiccation of Lake Ngami: An Historical Perspective', Geogr. J. 151, 318–326.Google Scholar
  54. Sieger, R.: 1887, 'Schwankungen der innerafrikanischen Seen', Verein der Geographie, Jahresbericht, University of Vienna, Vienna, pp. 41–60.Google Scholar
  55. Sprigade, P.: 1917, 'Die französische Kolonie Ober-Senegal und Niger', Mitt. deut. Schutzgebiet. 30, 431–530.Google Scholar
  56. Supan, A.: 1898, 'Die Verteilung des Niederschlags auf der festen Erdoberfläche', Petermanns Mitteilungen, Ergzänzungsheft No. 124, p. 103.Google Scholar
  57. Vogel, C.: 1989, 'A Documentary-Derived Climatic Chronology for South Africa', Clim. Change 14, 291–308.Google Scholar
  58. WMO: 1997, CLIVAR: A Research Programme on Climate Variability and Predictability for the 21st Century, WCRP No. 101,WMO/TD No. 853, ICPO No. 10, World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, p. 48.Google Scholar
  59. Yin, S. and Nicholson, S. E.: 1998, 'The Water Balance of Lake Victoria', J. Hydrol. Sci. 43, 789–811.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sharon E. Nicholson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of MeteorologyFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeU.S.A

Personalised recommendations