To get a quick overview of the amount of rainfall which has been fallen in the Upper Niger River in the current season, this websites presents the cumulative rainfall in the Upper Basin. Look here for an explanation.
Within a long day travel from the Sahara desert edge in Mauritania or Mali to the wooded savannas and humid forests in Guinea the average rainfall increases from 100 mm annually or less in the north (latitude 17 ºN) to about 2000 mm in the deep south (latitude 10 ºN). This translates in a rapid change of landscape and associated land cover and land use. The weather in West Africa is characterised by a distinct seasonal timing and huge variation in annual rainfall. Periods of severe droughts in the 1970s and 1980s are part of the collective memory.
Weather and climate are monitored and forecasted in Mali and Guinea already for long time by respectively Meteo Mali (DNM, Direction Nationale de la Météorologie) and the DNM in Guinea. In addition to the daily monitoring of weather stations, satellite imagery today is an important means to forecast and monitor weather and weather changes. In this Observatory we focus on rainfall data; for other meteo data we refer to the national directories, or World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
In this Section you find information on recent and forecasted rainfall in West Africa, in particular in the Upper Niger Basin. In the General pattern of rainfall, background information is given on rainfall patterns in the Sahel. There is a steep gradient in rainfall, with humid conditions in the source area of the, the part of the Upper Niger Basin in Guinea, and rather arid conditions in the northern parts of the basin and in and around the Inner Niger Delta. The large seasonal and annual variation in the amount of rainfall is characteristic for the Sahel.
This website presents also information on recent rainfall, inclusing maps and a two-weeks forecast, using information from satellite images of West Africa. Rainfall in the headwaters of the Niger and the Bani determines to a large extent if it will be a dry, wet or intermediate season. This is a telling indicator for water managers and landuse, and is thus a important aspect for IWRM. Building on the databases of the meteorological institutes in Guinea and Mali also the long term rainfall data are presented in this website for 12 meteo stations in the Upper Niger Basin.
This Section is completed with a short overview of the current knowledge on climate change in the West Africa region, relevant to the Mali and Guinea. This is based on an in-depth analyse of the regional climate change in the Upper Niger Basin, by the Potsdam Climate Adaptation Centre. For more information on these studies, see the Results of the BAM-GIRE project.