The World Bank’s latest data released Climate Knowledge Portal revealed that Egypt’s average annual rainfall from 1960 to 2016 decreased by 49 percent throughout the decades.
The World Bank said that Egypt’s monthly average rainfall dropped by 2.76 millimeters (mm) since 1960. This is a result of climate change.
Cofounder of Water Institute of the Nile Lama El Hatow attributed this decrease to Egypt’s dry climate. In her research paper titled ‘Impacts of Climate Change on Egypt and the Nile River’, El Halow said that the country’s average rainfall goes up to a maximum of 180 mm per year and can be as little as 2 mm per year depending on the location.
In March 1974, Egypt experienced the rainiest month (23.73 mm) over the span of 42 years. The second rainiest month recorded in its history close came almost 20 years later. May 1993 witnessed a total of 20.2 mm of rainfall.
According to the World Bank’s data, 1974 was the rainiest year in Egypt (59.1 mm). Whereas 2001 was the driest year with a total amount of rainfall of 18.8 mm.
The rainiest months throughout the decades are January (4.8 mm/year), December (4.0 mm/year) and February (3.7 mm/year).
On the other hand, April (1.77 mm/year), June (1.5 mm/year) and September (1.2 mm/year) are the least rainy months.
Interestingly, April was the rainiest month in 1972 (5.68 mm) despite it being one of the driest months.
In an interview with InfoTimes, Head of the Egyptian Meteorological Authority Ashraf Saber explains that Egypt is located in a geographical region where the rain is uncommon. Rain is a more regular during spring and autumn. This associated with desert thermal depressions winds called the ‘Khamasin’ storms. ‘Khamasin’ storms are active during a period of fifty days in spring, causing air instability accompanied by rain and dust.
Eman Shaker, director of the National Authority For Remote Sensing & Space Sciences, attributes the abnormalities in the amount of rainfall to “severe and violent” climate changes taking place in the whole world, including Egypt. This leads to an increase in rainfall in some regions and a decrease in the amount in other regions.
Torrential rains occur in spring and autumn. They are common southern Sinai, the Red Sea and other southern districts of the country, Shaker elaborates. This is a result of water gathering from the highlands and their slope. Rains that fall in the winter are heavy. These rains are usually centralized in Cairo, North Sinai, northern Upper Egypt, and especially abundant in the northern coasts.
The World Bank projects that by 2050, Egypt’s rainfall will decrease by 7 percent reduction near its coastal regions. The country will experience a 9 percent reduction in the central parts of the country. This is especially anticipated during the summer months (June to August). During these months, the amount of rainfall will decrease by 22 percent in the coasts.
On the other hand, Egypt’s central regions will experience a harsher drop of 27 percent during the respective months.
The amount of rainfall will decrease in Egypt’s central and coastal regions. During September, October and November, the amount of rainfall will drop by 11 percent by 2099.
However, the projection values indicates a 20 percent increase in the years 2020-2039 and a 21 percent increase in 2040-2059,compared to 2016. Similarly, the average annual rainfall increases by 23 percent in 2060-2079. Egypt’s average annual rainfall will jump by 33 percent between 2016 to 2099.
The USAID’s Climate Risk Country Profile in Egypt projected that the anticipated increase in heavy rainfall is particularly a result of the increasing temperatures.
According to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) report released in 2017, decreases in rainfall rates and abnormal rain distribution across different regions undermines power generation from hydropower plants.