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The Spatial and Temporal Characteristics of Rainfall over the Lake Victoria Basin of Kenya in 1987-2016

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Document pages: 18 pages

Abstract: Climate extremes have increased in the recent past and they are further being exacerbated by climate change and variability. In this paper, we sought to determine rainfall characteristics over the Lake Victoria Basin of Kenya in 1987-2016, as a basis of understanding climate variability. The methodology used included; Standardized Precipitation Index to depict variability, coefficient of variation for spatial analysis and the Mann-Kendall test to test the presence of trends in data. We established that Lake Victoria basin is relatively wet through-out the year, with two distinct rainfall seasons March-April-May (MAM) and October-November-December (OND) that support human livelihood and ecology. The normal wetness conditions have declined over time, paving way for both dry and wet extremes conditions between 1997-1998 and 2002-2006, respectively. The rainfall extremes have become frequent in the last decade in 2007-2016. We also established a decline in the MAM rainfall seasons, and an increase during the October-December rainfall seasons in 1987-2016. Furthermore, the number of rainy days has declined with the onset and cessations of both long rains and short rains having shown a variability of at least 50 and 30 respectively, in a range of about 100 to 200 Julian days. The decline in wet condition is likely to affect economic activities especially the rainfed agriculture. The changing rainfall trends over the basin therefore, call for proper human livelihood planning and ecological monitoring in order to achieve ecological sustainability.

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