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University of KwaZulu-Natal (2005)

Detection of changes in temperature and streamflow parameters over Southern Africa

Toucher, Michele Lynn.

Titre : Detection of changes in temperature and streamflow parameters over Southern Africa

Auteur : Toucher, Michele Lynn.

Université de soutenance : University of KwaZulu-Natal

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2005

Résumé partiel
It has become accepted that long-term global mean temperatures have increased over the twentieth century. However, whether or not climate change can be detected at a local or regional scale is still questionable. The numerous new record highs and lows of temperatures recorded over South Africa for 2003, 2004 and 2005 provide reason to examine whether changes can already be detected in southern Africa’s temperature record and modelled hydrological responses. As a preface to a temperature detection study, a literature reVIew on temperature detection studies, methods used and data problems encountered, was undertaken. Simple statistics, linear regression and the Mann-Kendall non-parametric test were the methods reviewed for detecting change. Southern Africa’s temperature record was thereafter examined for changes, and the Mann-Kendall non-parametric test was applied to time series of annual means of minimum and maximum temperature, summer means of maximum temperature and winter means of minimum temperature. Furthermore, changes in the upper and lower ends of the temperature distribution were examined. The Mann-Kendall test was applied to numbers of days and numbers of 3 consecutive days abovelbelow thresholds of 10th and 90th percentiles of minimum and maximum temperatures, as well as abovelbelow threshold values of minimum (i.e. 0°) and maximum (i.e. 40°C) temperatures. A second analysis, using the split sample technique for the periods 1950 - 1970 vs 1980 - 2000, was performed for annual means of daily maximum and minimum temperatures, summer means of daily maximum temperatures, winter means of daily minimum temperatures and coefficients of variability of daily maximum and minimum temperatures. Two clear clusters of warming emerged from almost every analysis, viz. a cluster of stations in the Western Cape and a cluster of stations around the midlands ofKwaZulu-Natal, along with a band of stations along the KwaZulu-Natal coast. Another fmding was a less severe frost season over the Free State and Northern Cape. While certain changes are, therefore, evident in temperature parameters, the changes are not uniform across southern Africa. Precipitation and evaporation are the primary drivers of the hydrological cycle, with temperature an important factor in the evaporation process.

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