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Madagascar - Climate

Madagascar’s climate is generally tropical with varying amounts of rainfall. Some areas on the eastern coast receive as much as 120 inches of rain every year. On the other hand, some areas in the Southwest are arid, experiencing fewer than 15 inches of rain per year. The rainy season is from November through April. All around the coast, the temperature is generally hot throughout the year with a much more moderate climate in the central, elevated regions.

Madagascar's generally tropical climate has with four main climatic zones.

  • Eastern Madagascar has a wet tropical climate. Mean annual precipitation is approximately 2,640 mm (104 in). In this belt, several cities are at risk for annual flooding. The mean daily maximum temperature, consistent throughout the year, is approximately 27ºC (81ºF).
  • The semidesert region of southwestern Madagascar has long dry periods between irregular rainstorms; mean annual precipitation is approximately 510 mm (20 in). The mean daily maximum temperature, consistent throughout the year, is approximately 30ºC (86ºF).
  • The rest of western Madagascar has a tropical climate with distinct wet and dry seasons. Most rainfall occurs during the summer monsoon (October through April). Mean annual precipitation varies from 1,520 mm (60 in) in the northwest to approximately 510 mm (20 in) in the southwest. Periodic water shortages occur during May through October in the southwest. The mean daily maximum temperature, which is relatively consistent throughout the year, is approximately 31ºC (88ºF).
  • The central highland, influenced by the east and west climes, has a mostly temperate climate, with two distinct seasons. Winter (dry season) extends from May through mid-September, producing a mean daily maximum temperature of approximately 20ºC (69ºF) and a mean daily minimum temperature of about 2ºC (35ºF). Abrupt drizzles are frequent; however, rainfall is negligible. Summer (wet season) extends from mid-September through April, producing a mean daily maximum temperature of 26ºC (79ºF) and a mean daily minimum temperature of 13ºC (59ºF). Most of the mean annual precipitation (1,520 mm; 60 in) occurs during late afternoon thundershowers. Lightning is a continual hazard that kills more than 60 people each year. Destructive tropical storms and cyclones generally occur from December through March.

In February 2001, more than 4,000 people left homeless in Antananarivo as a result of flooding from heavy rains received emergency aid. Three cyclones in the previous winter left over 30,000 people without shelter, another 300,000 people in need of immediate assistance, and 291 dead.

Water and sanitation have not been priority issues in Madagascar. In general, there is still insufficient infrastructure to provide safe drinking water throughout the country. Consumption of water contaminated with raw sewage or runoff containing fecal pathogens may cause a variety of acute enteric infections.

Surface water sources are reportedly polluted with raw sewage and other organic wastes. While the water treatment plant serving most of Antananarivo provides drinking water that nearly meets Western standards, public water systems throughout the rest of the country provide drinking water that is often contaminated. The infiltration of chemical and microbial contaminants occurs via leaks in the distribution system and is exacerbated by low water pressure.

Water sources are likely to be fouled by uncontrolled domestic waste and industrial effluent. For example, industrial effluents produced from facilities in Antananarivo often are discharged directly into the Ikopa River. Food and wood industries, which comprise approximately 34 percent of the country's total industries, are located along the coast and dump their wastes directly into the sea. Industrial activity around the coast is focused in the ports of Antsiranana, Ambilbe, Mahajanga, Tolagnaro, and Toamasina.

recent effect of climate change and global warming in Madagascar has been an increase in El Nino effects, which are associated with drought conditions and increased wildfires. In addition, there has been an increase in the intensity and number of cyclones, which displaces human communities and leads to local famine and cholera outbreaks. Madagascar’s western coast, mangrove forests are particularly susceptible to any increase in sea levels.

Although warmer ocean temperatures caused by global climate change have been recorded in northern Madagascar, the effects of this change on the coral reefs in the region have been mitigated, at least temporarily, by cooler water from deep ocean currents. Madagascar’s unique flora and fauna are also susceptible to climate change. For example, reduced rainfall has negatively affected endangered sifaka lemur populations.

The impact of climate change and global warming in Madagascar is exacerbated by deforestation resulting from increased population and unsustainable swidden farming and logging that has reduced forest cover and increased desertification, causing higher temperatures, lower humidity, and diminishing annual rainfall.

In the highlands of Madagascar, upland rice growing has developed in recent years thanks to the availability of varieties suited to the prevailing low temperatures in this mountainous region. Global warming could have serious consequences for rice production, and as a result for food security. Global warming could have a positive effect on rice productivity in this cold region, where rice is grown at the lower limit of its temperature tolerance. Unlike what it likely to happen in southern Asia, where rice is grown at the upper limit of its temperature tolerance and yields are likely to fall overall, the most "pessimistic" forecasts in terms of temperature could lead to a marked increase in yields in the highlands of Madagascar.

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Page last modified: 12-10-2016 19:48:44 ZULU