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Advances in Meteorology
Volume 2014, Article ID 516762, 11 pages
Research Article

The Role of the Dominant Modes of Precipitation Variability over Eastern Africa in Modulating the Hydrology of Lake Victoria

Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA

Received 18 May 2014; Accepted 4 August 2014; Published 16 September 2014

Academic Editor: Lian Xie

Copyright © 2014 Kara A. Smith and Fredrick H. M. Semazzi. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Previous water budget studies over Lake Victoria basin have shown that there is near balance between rainfall and evaporation and that the variability of Lake Victoria levels is determined virtually entirely by changes in rainfall since evaporation is nearly constant. The variability of rainfall over East Africa is dominated by El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO); however, the second and third most dominant rainfall climate modes also account for significant variability across the region. The relationship between ENSO and other significant modes of precipitation variability with Lake Victoria levels is nonlinear. This relationship should be studied to determine which modes need to be accurately modeled in order to accurately model Lake Victoria levels, which are important to the hydroelectric industry in East Africa. The objective of this analysis is to estimate the relative contributions of the dominant modes of annual precipitation variability to the modulation of Lake Victoria levels for the present day (1950–2012). The first mode of annual rainfall variability accounts for most of the variability in Lake Victoria levels, while the effects of the second and third modes are negligible even though these modes are also significant over the region.