The 2015/16 southern African drought and consequent above average rainfall experienced in the summer rainfall region of South Africa (attributed to the large 2015/16 El Nino) and the current drought being experienced in the Western Cape, attributed to relatively reduced winter rainfall in consecutive winters, are examples of variability inherent in inter-annual climate cycles and which have a measurable impact on society. The trends in this variability are important to elucidate and attribute if predictability of these sorts of climate events and their impacts are to be better managed.
Given the magnitude of the current water crisis in the Western Cape, it is necessary that the scientific community considers this current climate event with three aims in mind:
a. To share and discuss existing inter-institutional knowledge on the variability and trends in the winter rainfall region, particularly the prognosis for the 2017 winter season.b. To prioritize research questions aimed at managing the immediate and longer term impact of this and other similar climate driven crises in the future (and specifically to identify the constraints and opportunities for improved predictability of Western Cape Rainfall).c. To communicate with a consistent and clear message to all affected stake holders regarding the current crisis and the potential provision of optimal information in this regard for the respective authorities and stakeholders