Drought prediction in the Lepelle River basin, South Africa under general circulation model simulations

Darlington C. Ikegwuoha, Megersa O. Dinka

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3 Citations (Scopus)


This study aims to evaluate changes in the frequency and severity of historical droughts (1980-2018) and then model future droughts occurrences (2019-2099) in the Lepelle River Basin (LRB), using Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) General Circulation Model (GCM) simulations for two representative concentration pathways (RCP8.5 and RCP4.5). Firstly, the present-day and future hydrology of the LRB are modelled using the weather evaluation and planning (WEAP) model. Mann-Kendall tests are conducted to identify climate trends in the LRB. The reconnaissance drought index (RDI) and the streamflow drought index (SDI) are employed to explore hydro-meteorological droughts in the Lepelle River Basin, South Africa. The RDI and SDI are plotted over time to assess drought magnitude and duration. The simulated temporal evolution of RDI and SDI show a significant decrease in wetting periods and a concomitant increasing trend in the dry periods for both the lower and middle sections of the LRB under RCP4.5 as the 22nd century is approached. Lastly, the Spearman and Pearson correlation matrix is used to determine the degrees of association between the RDI and SDI drought indices. A strong positive correlation of 0.836 is computed for the middle and lower sections of the LRB under the RCP8.5 forcing. Further findings indicate that severe to extreme drought above -2.0 magnitude are expected to hit the all three sections of the LRB between 2080 and 2090 under RCP8.5. In the short term, it is suggested that policy actions for drought be implemented to mitigate possible impacts on human and hydro-ecological systems in the LRB.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-53
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Water and Land Development
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Drought
  • High-resolution-climate-data
  • Lepelle-River-Basin
  • Planning (WEAP)
  • Representative concentration pathways (RCPs)
  • Weather evaluation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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