The land and its climate knows no transition, no middle ground, everywhere too much or too little: a documentary‐based climate chronology for central Namibia, 1845–1900

Grab, Stefan; Zumthurm, Tizian (2018). The land and its climate knows no transition, no middle ground, everywhere too much or too little: a documentary‐based climate chronology for central Namibia, 1845–1900. International journal of climatology, 38(S1), e643-e659. Wiley 10.1002/joc.5397

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Recent and historical austral summer and winter rainfall characteristics have been widely investigated across southern Africa. However, a notable gap of knowledge remains for the Namibian region. This article presents the first extensive 19th century (1845–1900) hydro‐climate history for central Namibia, derived from documentary evidence. Unpublished and published data sources were scrutinized in various archives and libraries in Germany, Switzerland, Namibia and South Africa. Missionary Carl Hahn's detailed diaries are the most valuable source of information for the earliest period until 1859. Other important sources of information include the Rhenish Missionary Society (RMS) annual reports and monthly ‘Berichte’ (news), station chronicles, official annual reports for the colonial period (1894 onwards) and letters/diaries by traders, travellers, etc. Climate information was transcribed, translated and organized chronologically. Using a five‐point categorization system ranging from very wet (+2) to very dry (−2), each year was classified according to overall rainfall conditions during the rain season. A portion of the chronology is compared with instrumental rainfall data for Okahandja, Windhoek and Rehoboth and confirms good agreement. Possible associations between El Niño‐Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phases and subsequent austral summer rainfall conditions are explored for central Namibia. Wetter years (42%) are over‐represented in comparison to dry years (38%) during the second half of the 19th century in central Namibia, with a high percentage (42%) constituting either extremely wet or extremely dry years. Inter‐annual rainfall variability between 1845 and 1900 seems more pronounced than elsewhere in southern Africa during this period. Extreme to very strong and prolonged El Niño (e.g. 1876–1878) and La Nina (e.g. 1865–1866) phases account for rare hydro‐climatic synchronicity between southern African sub‐regions and between continents of the Southern Hemisphere.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute for the History of Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

Zumthurm, Tizian

Subjects:

600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health

ISSN:

0899-8418

Publisher:

Wiley

Language:

English

Submitter:

Barbara Järmann-Bangerter

Date Deposited:

19 Feb 2019 08:03

Last Modified:

19 Feb 2019 08:03

Publisher DOI:

10.1002/joc.5397

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.123749

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/123749

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