Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Detection and Attribution of Lake Victoria’s Water-Level Fluctuations in a Changing Climate

Version 1 : Received: 24 July 2021 / Approved: 26 July 2021 / Online: 26 July 2021 (13:42:00 CEST)

How to cite: Ogega, O.M.; Mbugua, J.; Misiani, H.O.; Nyadawa, M.; Scoccimarro, E.; Endris, H.S. Detection and Attribution of Lake Victoria’s Water-Level Fluctuations in a Changing Climate. Preprints 2021, 2021070575 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202107.0575.v1). Ogega, O.M.; Mbugua, J.; Misiani, H.O.; Nyadawa, M.; Scoccimarro, E.; Endris, H.S. Detection and Attribution of Lake Victoria’s Water-Level Fluctuations in a Changing Climate. Preprints 2021, 2021070575 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202107.0575.v1).

Abstract

This study investigated the influence of land-use and precipitation change and variability on Lake Victoria’s water-level fluctuations. Extreme precipitation events, corresponding to extreme water-levels, over the lake and its catchment area were identified and their return periods estimated by fitting them into a generalized extreme value (GEV) distribution. Using general circulation models from the 6th phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6)’s Detection & Attribution Model Intercomparison Project (DAMIP), an assessment of the potential contribution of human-induced climate change on the observed precipitation patterns over the study area was done. The greatest precipitation anomalies for the period 1900-2020 were recorded in 1961’s October-December (OND) season and 2019’s June-August (JJA) and OND seasons, corresponding to the period when the highest water-levels were recorded in Lake Victoria. While land-use change in the study domain was observed, extended and unusually heavy June to December 2019 precipitation bore the greatest responsibility for the 2019/2020 high water-levels in Lake Victoria. The OND precipitation event of 2019 was a 1-in-52-year event compared to the 1961’s 1-in-693 years. Differences in return periods at various parts of the lake imply a high spatial climate variability within the lake itself. An analysis of the fraction of attributable risk (FAR) showed natural variability to have a greater influence on the JJA and OND precipitation patterns over Lake Victoria than human-induced climate change. However, variability over the land area of the study domain was mainly driven by human-induced climate change rather than natural variability, implying a unique climate system over Lake Victoria. Findings from the current study enhance the understanding of Lake Victoria’s water budget and motivate for further research to inform effective strategies on the planning and use of Lake Victoria’s water resources in a changing climate.

Keywords

Lake Victoria; Climate change; Return periods; Detection and Attribution; DAMIP; CMIP6

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