Variability and the Severity of the “Little Dry Season” in Southwestern Nigeria

James O. Adejuwon Department of Geography, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria

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Theophilus O. Odekunle Department of Geography, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria

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Abstract

The Little Dry Season (LDS) of West Africa is manifested as a decline in both the frequency and amount of daily rainfall for a number of weeks halfway through the rainy season. The mean or climatological LDS is derived from the slope of the cumulative percentage graph of 5-day mean rainfall (daily rainfall data between 1961 and 2000). LDS variability analysis was carried out using the concept of relative variability. The results obtained showed that LDS is observed from mid-July to mid-September along the coast. Northward and eastward the period of occurrence decreases. In general, the phenomenon is not observed north of the eastward-flowing or east of the southward-flowing River Niger. The results also show considerable interannual variability. Variability was highest along the southwestern coast and declined inland northward and eastward. Variability was highest with respect to total rainfall, followed by length and number of rain days. There are indications that for most years the LDS was only relatively dry while in certain years it represented a period of drought. The occurrence of the LDS in space and time is explained by the movements of the intertropical discontinuity and its associated zone of rainfall. Interannual variability in occurrence and severity are determined by the Walker Circulation phenomenon. Variability in the severity of the LDS has mixed implications for agricultural practices.

Corresponding author address: Dr. James O. Adejuwon, Department of Geography, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. Email: jadejuwon@yahoo.com

Abstract

The Little Dry Season (LDS) of West Africa is manifested as a decline in both the frequency and amount of daily rainfall for a number of weeks halfway through the rainy season. The mean or climatological LDS is derived from the slope of the cumulative percentage graph of 5-day mean rainfall (daily rainfall data between 1961 and 2000). LDS variability analysis was carried out using the concept of relative variability. The results obtained showed that LDS is observed from mid-July to mid-September along the coast. Northward and eastward the period of occurrence decreases. In general, the phenomenon is not observed north of the eastward-flowing or east of the southward-flowing River Niger. The results also show considerable interannual variability. Variability was highest along the southwestern coast and declined inland northward and eastward. Variability was highest with respect to total rainfall, followed by length and number of rain days. There are indications that for most years the LDS was only relatively dry while in certain years it represented a period of drought. The occurrence of the LDS in space and time is explained by the movements of the intertropical discontinuity and its associated zone of rainfall. Interannual variability in occurrence and severity are determined by the Walker Circulation phenomenon. Variability in the severity of the LDS has mixed implications for agricultural practices.

Corresponding author address: Dr. James O. Adejuwon, Department of Geography, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. Email: jadejuwon@yahoo.com

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