Recent trends in the climate of Namaqualand, a megadiverse arid region of South Africa

Type: 
Research Article
Number of pages: 
9
Published: 
30 March 2016

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Abstract: 

Namaqualand is especially vulnerable to future climate change impacts. Using a high-resolution (0.5°x0.5°) gridded data set (CRU TS 3.1) and individual weather station data, we demonstrated that temperatures as well as frequency of hot extremes have increased across this region. Specifically, minimum temperatures have increased by 1.4 °C and maximum temperatures by 1.1 °C over the last century. Of the five weather stations analysed, two showed evidence of a significant increase in the duration of warm spells of up to 5 days per decade and a reduction in the number of cool days (TX10P) by up to 3 days per decade. In terms of rainfall, we found no clear evidence for a significant change in annual totals or the frequency or intensity of rainfall events. Seasonal trends in rainfall did, however, demonstrate some spatial variability across the region. Spatial trends in evapotranspiration obtained from the 8-day MOD16 ET product were characterised by a steepening inland-coastal gradient where areas along the coastline showed a significant increase in evapotranspiration of up to 30 mm per decade, most notably in spring and summer. The increase in temperature linked with the increases in evapotranspiration pose significant challenges for water availability in the region, but further research into changes in coastal fog is required in order for a more reliable assessment to be made. Overall, the results presented in this study provide evidence-based information for the management of climate change impacts as well as the development of appropriate adaptation responses at a local scale.

Keywords: 

climate extreme; trend analysis; temperature; rainfall; evapotranspiration
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