Mechanisms for the wet and dry years over Eritrea during the summer rainfall season

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The economy of Eritrea depends on rain-fed agriculture, which is highly sensitive to seasonal and inter-annual variations of rainfall. Adequate amount of rainfall is required every year for adequate agricultural production and drinking water. Therefore, the distribution of seasonal rainfall in space and time is critical to the country's economy. Drought has great influence on the socio-economic aspect and livelihood of the rural population. Drought occurs in Eritrea due to anomalous regional atmospheric circulation. This study focuses on the summer rainy season of June, July and August (JJA). It examines atmospheric and oceanographic mechanism patterns associated to summer rainfall anomalies. The investigation mainly concentrates on wet and dry spells that occurred over Eritrea during the rainy seasons (June to August) of 1950's-1990's. Rainfall data was available from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) Hulme dataset for a period of 1950 -1996 and this together with rainfall data from the Africa Data Dissemination Service was used to determine the characteristics of wet and dry spells. Finally, NCEP-NCAR reanalysis climate data was used to analyse the atmospheric circulation associated with wet and dry years. It has been found that the pattern of the SST along the eastern Pacific and the Indian oceans seem to influence the occurrence of the anomaly rainfall years. Correlation analysis shows that Eritrean summer rainfall is more strongly correlated with the eastern Pacific and Indian Oceans SST. Thus, the drought records in Eritrea are mainly associated with EI Nino events.

Bibliography: leaves 54-57.