Impact of precipitation and increasing temperatures on drought in; eastern Africa Journal Article uri icon



  • Abstract. In eastern Africa droughts can cause crop failure and lead to food insecurity. With increasing temperatures, there is an a priori assumption that droughts are becoming more severe, however, the link between droughts and climate change is not sufficiently understood. In the current study we focus on agricultural drought and the influence of high temperatures and precipitation deficits on this. Using a combination of models and observational datasets, we studied trends in six regions in eastern Africa in four drought-related annually averaged variables – soil moisture, precipitation, temperature and, as a measure of evaporative demand, potential evapotranspiration (PET). In standardized soil moisture data, we find no discernible trends. Precipitation was found to have a stronger influence on soil moisture variability than temperature or PET, especially in the drier, or water-limited, study regions. The error margins on precipitation-trend estimates are however large and no clear trend is evident. We find significant positive trends in local temperatures. However, the influence of these on soil moisture annual trends appears limited as evaporation is water limited. The trends in PET are predominantly positive, but we do not find strong relations between PET and soil moisture trends. Nevertheless, the PET-trend results can still be of interest for irrigation purposes as it is PET that determines the maximum evaporation rate. We conclude that, until now, the impact of increasing local temperatures on agricultural drought in eastern Africa is limited and recommend that any soil moisture analysis be supplemented by analysis of precipitation deficit.;

publication date

  • May 24, 2019

has restriction

  • green

Date in CU Experts

  • June 3, 2021 10:07 AM

Full Author List

  • Kew SF; Philip SY; Hauser M; Hobbins M; Wanders N; van Oldenborgh GJ; van der Wiel K; Veldkamp TIE; Kimutai J; Funk C

author count

  • 11

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