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Water 2016, 8(10), 439; doi:10.3390/w8100439

Characteristics of Droughts in South Africa: A Case Study of Free State and North West Provinces

1
South African Weather Service, Private Bag X097, Pretoria 0001, South Africa
2
Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0001, South Africa
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Athanasios Loukas
Received: 7 July 2016 / Revised: 4 October 2016 / Accepted: 4 October 2016 / Published: 10 October 2016
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Abstract

The Free State (FS) and North West (NW) Provinces are often hard hit by droughts with impacts on water availability, farm production and livestock holdings. The South African government declared the two Provinces drought disaster areas in the 2015/2016 hydrological year. This is a major drawback, since both the Provinces play an important role to South African economy as they are a haven to agricultural production and have major water reservoirs in South Africa. This study was undertaken to investigate the historical evolution of drought within the FS and NW Provinces over the past 30 years. The Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) and Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) calculated based on monthly meteorological data from 14 weather/climate stations within the FS and NW Provinces were used to explore and characterize variation in drought intensity, duration, frequency and severity in FS and NW Provinces during 1985–2015. Results indicate that there exist localized positive and negative trends with spatial dependence across the selected stations. In particular, about 60% of the weather stations exhibiting a decreasing trend are located in FS Province, suggesting that FS has being experiencing increasing drought during the analyzed period compared to NW Province. Results from the analysis of drought evaluation indicators (DEIs) calculated from SPEI suggest that drought severity and frequency was more pronounced in FS while the intensity of the drought was more in NW Province during 1985–2015. In addition, based on SPEI calculations, moderate drought occurrences increased during 1985–1994 and 1995–2004 periods and decreased thereafter (2005–2015) in both Provinces. Drought classification based on parameters derived from SPEI produced similar results for mild drought occurrences during the same time scales. View Full-Text
Keywords: drought; drought characterization; Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI); Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) drought; drought characterization; Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI); Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI)
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Botai, C.M.; Botai, J.O.; Dlamini, L.C.; Zwane, N.S.; Phaduli, E. Characteristics of Droughts in South Africa: A Case Study of Free State and North West Provinces. Water 2016, 8, 439.

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