Hydroclimatic Extremes in the Limpopo River Basin, South Africa, under Changing Climate


This research study evaluated the projected future climate and anticipated impacts on water-linked sectors on the transboundary Limpopo River Basin (LRB) with a focus on South Africa. Streamflow was simulated from two CORDEX-Africa regional climate models (RCMs) forced by the 5th phase of the Coupled Model Inter-Comparison Project (CMIP5) Global Climate Models (GCMs), namely, the CanESM2m and IPSL-CM5A-MR climate models. Three climate projection time intervals were considered spanning from 2006 to 2099 and delineated as follows: current climatology (2006–2035), near future (2036–2065) and end of century future projection (2070–2099). Statistical metrics derived from the projected streamflow were used to assess the impacts of the changing climate on water-linked sectors. These metrics included streamflow trends, low and high flow quantile probabilities, the Standardized Streamflow Index (SSI) trends and the proportion (%) of dry and wet years, as well as drought monitoring indicators. Based on the Mann-Kendall (MK) trend test, the LRB is projected to experience reduced streamflow in both the near and the distant future. The basin is projected to experience frequent dry and wet conditions that can translate to drought and flash floods, respectively. In particular, a high proportion of dry and a few incidences of wet years are expected in the basin in the future. In general, the findings of this research study will inform and enhance climate change adaptation and mitigation policy decisions and implementation thereof, to sustain the livelihoods of vulnerable communities.