The seasonal migration across the equator of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) drives the country’s climate. In the equatorial climate zone, located near the Equator, temperatures are high (annual average for Yangambi 24.6°C), humidity is high and rains fall throughout the year averaging between 1,600 mm and 2,000 mm annually. The country’s tropical climate zones in the north and south of the equatorial zone experience more seasonal variability, with distinct dry (April to October) and rainy (November to March) seasons that are driven by the annual cycle of the ITCZ. Along the west coast is a small zone characterized by an oceanic climate due to the cold Benguela Current. Here, precipitation is approximately 800 mm per year, which, along with temperatures, are significantly lower than in the rest of the country. The highlands in the east of the country lie outside the path of the ITCZ and are subject to the influence of the southeastern trade winds, snow commonly occurs in the highest altitudes. Climate variability and change are likely to exacerbate existing vulnerabilities, political instability and conflict, food insecurity and the existing high poverty rates. Food security is of primary concern as the majority of the country’s agriculture is primarily rainfed and conducted by small-holder farmers.
- In the northern and central to southwestern areas, near the capitol city of Kinshasa, temperature is relatively s ranging between 24-25℃.
- The subtropical savannahs in the south and southeast experience slightly lower average temperatures of 22-23℃.
- Between 1901 and 2013 a small increase in temperature (0.05 ºC per decade) was observed, which was stronger over the last 30 years (0.17 ºC per decade).
- The northern areas of the country, dominated by tropical forests along the Congo River are characterized by two rainy seasons (March to May and September to December).
- The Central and southeastern areas, which include mountain terraces and grasslands, have one rainy season (July to August), while the subtropical savannahs also have a single season, which occurs between December and February.
- More rainfall is received in the east of the country and is fairly constant along the Equator.
- Rainfall is highly variable across the country and since the 1960s no substantial overall changes in rainfall are observed.