Time Profile of Three Semi-Arid Ecosystems in Africa
Monday, 14 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
We examine the spatio-temporal variability of rainfall and satellite derived-vegetation index of three endorheic semi-arid ecosystems in Africa: Lake Chad (in the Sahel region), Okavango and Etosha (Southern Africa) to infer the nature and trends of the variability during the satellite data instrumental record. We utilize African Rainfall Climatology Precipitation Estimates (1983-2014) and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) derived from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR: 1981-2014) and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS: 2001:2014) to examine the aspects of the annual cycle and interannual variability using both time series plots and time-space diagrams. With respect to Lake Chad region, the first two decades of the series (1981-2000) show predominantly dryer than long-term average conditions with the periods 1989, 1992 and 1996/1997 as the signature drought periods coinciding with the desiccation of the Sahel region during the 1980s to early 1990s decades. The period 2000 to present is dominated by above average rainfall and NDVI with 2003, 2007 and 2012 being the most pronounced wet/greener years. The southern African ecosystems (Okavango and Etosha) show more or less a similar temporal pattern to that of Lake Chad basin, however, the wet periods are more amplified and persistent especially 2000, 2006, 2010 and 2014, with corresponding above average NDVI departures. The amplified nature of wet and dry periods present in the southern African ecosystem time series are consistent with the El Niño Southern Oscillation teleconnection patterns. Overall these three ecosystems serve as detectable fingerprints of changing climate conditions and ecosystems in these arid regions.