Trends in extreme temperature indices in South Africa: 1962–2009



Trends in daily maximum and minimum extreme temperature indices were investigated for 28 weather stations in South Africa, not only for the common period of 1962–2009, but also for longer periods which the individual record lengths of the stations would allow. The utilized weather stations had limited gaps in their time series, did not undergo major moves, or had their exposure compromised during the study period, as to influence the homogeneity of their time series. The indices calculated were forthcoming from those developed by the WMO/CLIVAR Expert Team on Climate Change Detection and Indices (ETCCDI), but only those applicable to the South African climate were selected. The general result is that warm extremes increased and cold extremes decreased for all of the weather stations. The trends however vary on a regional basis, both in magnitude and statistical significance, broadly indicating that the western half, as well as parts of the northeast and east of South Africa, show relatively stronger increases in warm extremes and decreases in cold extremes than elsewhere in the country. These regions coincide to a large degree with the thermal regimes in South Africa which are susceptible to extreme temperatures. The annual absolute maximum and minimum temperatures do not reflect the general trends displayed by the other indices, showing that individual extreme events cannot always be associated with observed long-term climatic trends. The analyses of longer time series than the common period indicate that it is highly likely that warming accelerated since the mid-1960s in South Africa. Copyright © 2012 Royal Meteorological Society