Current Climate

Climatology

This page presents Malawi's climate context for the current climatology, 1991-2020, derived from observed, historical data. Information should be used to build a strong understanding of current climate conditions in order to appreciate future climate scenarios and projected change. You can visualize data for the current climatology through spatial variation, the seasonal cycle, or as a time series. Analysis is available for both annual and seasonal data. Data presentation defaults to national-scale aggregation, however sub-national data aggregations can be accessed by clicking within a country, on a sub-national unit.  Other historical climatologies can be selected from the Time Period dropdown list. Data for  specific coordinates can be downloaded for in the Data Download page.

Observed, historical data is produced by the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of University of East Anglia. Data is presented at a 0.5º x 0.5º (50km x 50km) resolution.

The climate of the region is largely influenced by the northward and southward seasonal migration and intensity of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), a low pressure belt within the Congo basin caused by tropical high pressure belts over both the Indian and Atlantic Oceans and the Congo Air Boundary (CAB), that is controlled by sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies such as the Indian Ocean Dipole (IZOD) and El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) system.

Malawi has two main seasons, namely the cool dry season between May and October with mean temperatures of around 13°C in June and July and the hot wet season between November and April with temperatures between 30°- 35°C. Rainfall is variable depending on altitude and ranges from 600 mm for the rift valley floors to 1600 mm per annum for the mountainous areas. Local differences in rainfall are caused by complex topography causing deflections of moisture-bearing winds that are responsible for precipitation and rain-shadow effects in various terrains.

Temperature

  • There is evidence that global air temperatures is changing and/or fluctuating with time.
  • General trend shows continual increase in mean air temperatures across the country.
  • Temperatures have exhibited an increasing trend over Malawi.
  • Extreme weather events, especially floods and droughts, have also been increasing in intensity.

Precipitation

  • Since 1961, Malawi has experienced considerable inter-annual climatic variations. These variations have resulted in the occurrence of extreme weather and related events. 
  • Large decadal rainfall fluctuations, although there is a clear decreasing trend for mean seasonal rainfall over the country. 
  • The decreasing rainfall trend is also well illustrated for Karonga annual rainfall during the period 1961-2009.