This study presents the first consolidation of palaeoclimate proxy records from multiple archives to develop statistical rainfall reconstructions for southern Africa covering the last two centuries. State-of-the-art ensemble reconstructions reveal multi-decadal rainfall variability in the summer and winter rainfall zones. A decrease in precipitation amount over time is identified in the summer rainfall zone. No significant change in precipitation amount occurred in the winter rainfall zone, but rainfall variability has increased over time. Generally synchronous rainfall fluctuations between the two zones are identified on decadal scales, with common wet (dry) periods reconstructed around 1890 (1930). A strong relationship between seasonal rainfall and sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the surrounding oceans is confirmed. Coherence among decadal-scale fluctuations of southern African rainfall, regional SST, SSTs in the Pacific Ocean and rainfall in south-eastern Australia suggest SST-rainfall teleconnections across the Southern Hemisphere. Temporal breakdowns of the SST-rainfall relationship in the southern African regions and the connection between the two rainfall zones are observed, for example during the 1950s. Our results confirm the complex interplay between large-scale teleconnections, regional SSTs and local effects in modulating multi-decadal southern African rainfall variability over long timescales.
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- Precipitation reconstruction
- Southern Africa
- Climate dynamics
- Southern hemisphere