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Noon seminar - Climatic, hydrological and geomorphological changes in the Okavango Delta of Botswana

Monday, October 31, 2011, 12:00PM - 1:00PM


Piotr Wolski

University of Botswana

The Okavango Delta is a large, pristine flood-pulsed wetland system located in northern Botswana, Africa, that has been recognized as a Ramsar site, a wetland of international importance. This talk will focus on how hydrological variability in the Okavango Delta is shaped by interactions between natural climatic variability, anthropogenic climate change, and endogenous transformation of the wetland. Statistical analyses, climate and hydrological modelling are used to show that a) in the long-term the system is driven by multidecadal periodicity in rainfall, possibly related to global climatic processes represented by the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, b) anthropogenic climate change actually moderates rather than causes the high flood conditions observed in the recent years and c) the entire system is subject to gradual redistribution of water, independent of the overall wetness of the system. Implications of these for management of the system under sustainable use imperative will be discussed.