Spatial and temporal variability of summer rainfall over Ethiopia from observations and a regional climate model experiment

T. Zeleke, F. Giorgi, G. Mengistu Tsidu, G. T. Diro

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17 Citations (Scopus)


The spatial and temporal variability of rainfall over Ethiopia during the summer (JJAS) season is studied using observations (both station and satellite based) and model simulation data. The simulation dataset is generated using the fourth version of the International Center for Theoretical Physics Regional Climate Model (RegCM4) for the period 1989-2005. Ethiopia is first divided into 12 homogeneous regions using criteria including rotated empirical orthogonal function (REOF), spatial correlation, seasonal cycles, and topographical features. Spatially averaged observed and simulated rainfall time series are then generated and analyzed for each region. Standardized rainfall anomalies of the observations and the simulated data are highly correlated over the northern, western, northeastern, central, and southwestern regions, while a weak correlation is found over the border regions of the country. The dominant modes of rainfall variability are identified using REOF, while time-frequency variations of different dominant modes are described by wavelet analysis. The first leading patterns of rainfall and upper wind (averaged between 100 and 300 hPa) are highly correlated and exhibit similar features between simulation and observations over the northern, western, southwestern, and eastern regions of Ethiopia. The second loading pattern of rainfall and the first loading pattern of low-level wind (averaged between 850 and 1,000 hPa) exhibit a dipole structure across the southwestern and northeastern regions of the country. The dominant signals in the first rotated principal component (RPC) of rainfall and upper level wind fields show a period of 4-5 and 2-3 years, while the dominant signals in the second RPC show a period of 2-3 years at a 0. 05 significance level. The correlations of significant RPCs across gauge, gridded, and model rainfall fields with that of low and upper level winds show the presence of a significant relationship (correlation exceeding ~0. 6). Overall, the RegCM4 shows a good performance in simulating the spatial and temporal variability of precipitation over Ethiopia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)665-681
Number of pages17
JournalTheoretical and Applied Climatology
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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