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Water 2019, 11(2), 299; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11020299

Analysis of Drought Progression Physiognomies in South Africa

1
South African Weather Service, Private Bag X097, Pretoria 0001, South Africa
2
Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology, University of Pretoria, Private Bag X020, Hatfield 0028, South Africa
3
School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville Campus, Private Bag X54001, Durban 4000, South Africa
4
Department of Information Technology, Central University of Technology, Free State, Private Bag X200539, Bloemfontein 9300, South Africa
5
School for Health Systems and Public Health, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 5 December 2018 / Revised: 21 January 2019 / Accepted: 26 January 2019 / Published: 11 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Water Resources Management and Governance)
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Abstract

The spatial-temporal variability of drought characteristics and propagation mechanisms in the hydrological cycle is a pertinent topic to policymakers and to the diverse scientific community. This study reports on the analysis of drought characteristics and propagation patterns in the hydrological cycle over South Africa. In particular, the analysis considered daily precipitation and streamflow data spanning from 1985 to 2016, recorded from 74 weather stations, distributed across South Africa and covering the country’s 19 Water Management Areas (WMAs). The results show that all the WMAs experience drought features characterized by an inherent spatial-temporal dependence structure with transition periods categorized into short (1–3 months), intermediate (4–6 months), long (7–12 months) and extended (>12 months) time-scales. Coupled with climate and catchment characteristics, the drought propagation characteristics delineate the WMAs into homogenous zones subtly akin to the broader climatic zones of South Africa, i.e., Savanna, Grassland, Karoo, Fynbos, Forest, and Desert climates. We posit that drought evolution results emanating from the current study provide a new perspective of drought characterization with practical use for the design of drought monitoring, as well as early warning systems for drought hazard preparedness and effective water resources planning and management. Overall, the analysis of drought evolution in South Africa is expected to stimulate advanced drought research topics, including the elusive drought termination typology. View Full-Text
Keywords: drought propagation physiognomies; hydrological drought; clustering; drought termination drought propagation physiognomies; hydrological drought; clustering; drought termination
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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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Botai, J.O.; Botai, C.M.; de Wit, J.P.; Muthoni, M.; Adeola, A.M. Analysis of Drought Progression Physiognomies in South Africa. Water 2019, 11, 299.

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