Climate Characteristics over Southern Highlands Tanzania


This study was conducted to examine the climate characteristic of southern highland Tanzania (Latitude 6°S-12°S and Longitude 29°E-38°E). The study findings reveal that rainfall over the region is linked with SST over the Indian Ocean, where warmer (cooler) western Indian Ocean is accompanied by high (low) amount of rainfall over Tanzania. During wet (dry) years, weaker (stronger) equatorial westerlies and anticyclone (cyclonic) anomaly over the southern tropics act to reduce (enhance) the export of equatorial moisture away from East Africa. The wettest (driest) season was found to be 1978/79 (1999/00) which can be classified as the severely wet (moderate drought). Two different modes of rainfall have been identified at time scale of 1.5 and 6 years which have been associated with the quasi biennial oscillation (QBO) and El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), respectively.

Share and Cite:

Y. Mbululo and F. Nyihirani, "Climate Characteristics over Southern Highlands Tanzania," Atmospheric and Climate Sciences, Vol. 2 No. 4, 2012, pp. 454-463. doi: 10.4236/acs.2012.24039.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] T. A. Kabanda and M. R. Jury, “Interannual Variability of Short Rains over Northern Tanzania,” Climate Research, Vol. 13, No. 3, 1999, pp. 231-241. doi:10.3354/cr013231
[2] E. J. Mpeta, “Mechanisms of Interannual Rainfall Variability over Tropical Highlands of Africa and Its Predictability Potential,” Ph.D. Thesis, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Zululand, Empangeni, 2002.
[3] L. A. Ogallo, “Dynamics of the East African Climate,” Journal of Earth System Science, Vol. 102, 1993, pp. 203-217.
[4] S. K. Behera, J. Luo, S. Masson, T. Yamagata, P. Delecluse, S. Gualdi and A. Navarra, “Paramount Impact of the Indian Ocean Dipole on the East African Short Rains: A CGCM Study,” Journal of Climate, Vol. 18, No. 21, 2005, pp. 4514-4530. doi:10.1175/JCLI3541.1
[5] M. Latif, D. Dommenget, M. Dima and A. Grotzner, “The Role of Indian Ocean Sea Surface Temperature in Forcing East African Rainfall Anomalies during December-January 1997/98,” Journal of Climate, Vol. 12, No. 12, 1999, pp. 3497-3504.
[6] L. Goddard and N. E. Graham, “Importance of the Indian Ocean for Simulating Rainfall Anomalies over Eastern and Southern Africa,” Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 104, No. d16, 1999, pp.19,099-19,116.
[7] M. Indeje, F. H. M. Semazzi and L. J. Ogallo, “ENSO Signals in East African Rainfall Seasons,” International Journal of Climatology, Vol. 20, No. 1, 2000, pp. 19-46. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1097-0088(200001)20:1<19::AID-JOC449>3.0.CO;2-0
[8] A. T. Mapande and C. J. C. Reason, “Links between Rainfall Variability on Intraseasonal and Interannual Scales over Western Tanzania and Regionacirculation and SST Patterns,” Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, Vol. 89, No. 1-4, 2005, pp. 215-234. doi:10.1007/s00703-005-0130-2
[9] E. J. Mpeta and M. R. Jury, “Intraseasonal Convective Structure and Evolution over Tropical East Africa,” Climate Research, Vol. 17, No. 1, 2001, pp. 83-92. doi:10.3354/cr017083
[10] H. K. Ntale and T. Y. Gan, “East African Rainfall anomaly Patterns in Association with El Nino Southern Oscillation,” Journal of Hydrologic Engineering, Vol. 9, No. 4, 2004, pp. 257-268. doi:10.1061/(ASCE)1084-0699(2004)9:4(257)
[11] P. J. Webster, J. P. Loschnigg, A. M. Moore and R. R. Leben, “Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Dynamics in the Indian Ocean during 1997-98,” Nature, Vol. 401, No. 6751, 1999, pp. 356-360. doi:10.1038/43848
[12] N. H. Saji, B. N. Goswami, P. N. Vinayachandran and T. Yamagata, “A Dipole Mode in the Tropical Indian Ocean,” Nature, Vol. 401, No. 6751, 1999, pp. 360-363. doi:10.1038/43855
[13] C. O. Clark, P. J. Webster and J. E. Cole, “Interdecadal Variability of the Relationship between the Indian Ocean Zonal Mode and East African Coastal Rainfall Anomalies,” Journal of Climate, Vol. 16, No. 3, 2003, pp. 548-554. doi:10.1175/1520-0442(2003)016<0548:IVOTRB>2.0.CO;2
[14] C. P. K. Basalirwa, J. O. Odiyo, R. J. Mngodo and E. J. Mpeta, “The Climatological Regions of Tanzania Based on the Rainfall Characteristics,” International Journal of Climatology, Vol. 19, No. 1, 1999, pp. 69-80. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1097-0088(199901)19:1<69::AID-JOC343>3.0.CO;2-M
[15] S. E. Nicholson and D. Entekhabi, “The Quasi Periodic Behavior of Rainfall Variability in Africa and Its Relationship to the Southern Oscillation,” Archives for Meteorology, Geophysics and Bioclimatology, Vol. 34, No. 3-4, 1986, pp. 311-348.
[16] M. Indeje and F. H. M. Semazzi, “Relationships between QBO in the Lower Equatorial Stratospheric Zonal Winds and East African Seasonal Rainfall,” Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, Vol. 73, No. 3-4, 2000, pp. 227-244. doi:10.1007/s007030050075
[17] E. Kalnay, M. Kanamitsu, R. Kistler, W. Collins, D. Deaven, L. Gandin, M. Iredell, S. Saha, G. White, J. Woollen, Y. Zhu, M. Chelliah, W. Ebisuzaki, W. Higgins, J. Janowiak, K. C. Mo, C. Ropelewski, J. Wang, A. Leetmaa, R. Reynolds, R. Jenne and D. Joseph, “The NCEP/NCAR 40 Year Reanalysis Project,” Bulletin of American Meteorology Society, Vol. 77, No. 3, 1996, pp. 437-471. doi:10.1175/1520-0477(1996)077<0437:TNYRP>2.0.CO;2
[18] A. Kaplan, M. A. Cane, Y. Kushnir, A. C. Clement, M. B. Blumenthal and B. Rajagopalan, “Analyses of Global Sea Surface Temperature 1856-1991,” Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 103, No. C9, 1998, pp. 18,567-18,589. doi:10.1029/97JC01736
[19] A. T. Mapande, and C. J. C. Reason, “Interannual Rainfall Variability over Western Tanzania,” International Journal of Climatology, Vol. 25, No. 10, 2005, pp. 1355-1368. doi:10.1002/joc.1193
[20] T. B. McKee, N. J. Doesken and J. Kleist, “The Relationship of Drought Frequency and Duration to Time Scales,” 8th Conference on Applied Climatology, Anaheim, 1993, pp. 179-184.
[21] N. B. Guttman, “Accepting the Standardized Precipitation Index, A Calculation Algorithm,” Journal of the American Water Resources Association, Vol. 35, No. 2, 1999, pp. 311-322. doi:10.1111/j.1752-1688.1999.tb03592.x
[22] I. Bordi, S. Frigio, P. Parenti, A. Speranza and A. Sutera, “The Analysis of the Standardized Precipitation Index in the Mediterranean Area; Large Scale Patterns,” Annal Sgeofisica, Vol. 44, No. 5-6, 2001, pp. 965-978.
[23] D. Manatsa, G. Mukwada, E. Siziba and T. Chinyanganya, “Analysis of Multidimensional Aspects of Agricultural Droughts in Zimbabwe Using the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI),” Theoretical and Applied Climatology, Vol. 102, No. 3-4, 2010, pp. 287-305. doi:10.1007/s00704-010-0262-2
[24] R. R. Heim, “A Review of Twentieth Century Drought Indices Used in the United States,” American Meteorological Society, Vol. 83, No. 8, 2002, pp. 1149-1165.
[25] B. Lloyd-Hughes and M. A. Saunders, “A Drought Climatology for Europe,” International Journal of Climatology, Vol. 22, No. 13, 2002, pp. 1571-1592. doi:10.1002/joc.846
[26] S. K. Behera and T. Yamagata, “Subtropical SST Dipole Events in the Southern Indian Ocean,” Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 28, No. 2, 2001, pp. 327-330. doi:10.1029/2000GL011451
[27] P. Florenchie, J. R. E. Lutjeharms, C. J. C. Reason, S. Masson and M. Rouault, “The Source of Benguela Ninos in the South Atlantic Ocean,” Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 30, No. 10, 2003, 4 pp. doi:10.1029/2003GL017172
[28] S. K. Behera and T. Yamagata, “Influence of the Indian Ocean Dipole on the Southern Oscillation,” Journal of the Meteorological Society of Japan, Vol. 81, No. 1, 2003, pp. 169-177. doi:10.2151/jmsj.81.169

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.