This page presents Namibia'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.
Namibia is one of the largest and driest countries in sub-Saharan Africa and is characterized by high climatic variability through persistent droughts, unpredictable and variable rainfall patterns, variability in temperatures and water scarcity. The climate is generally hot and dry with sparse and erratic rainfall. 92% of the land area is defined as very-arid, arid, or semi-arid. The country ranks second in aridity after the Sahara Desert. The dryness of the country is largely a function of the northward flowing Benguela current, which brings cold air to the western shores, driven by a high-pressure system. This combination generally suppresses rainfall. However, during the summer periods, the Inter-tropical convergence Zone (ITCZ) draws moisture from the equator to the northern and eastern regions of the country, leading to the rainfall season between October and April.
Historically, rainfall in Namibia is extremely variable. Mean annual rainfall is only 278 mm, with a variation from 650 mm in the northeast to less than 50 mm in the southwest and along the coastal areas. In the Namib Desert, rainfall is extremely scarce. Rainfall peaks in January, February, and March where mean monthly rainfall averages approximately 62 mm, 66 mm, and 55 mm, respectively. From a hydrological point of view, Namibia is an arid, water deficient country. High solar radiation, low humidity, and high temperature lead to very high evaporation rates, which vary between 3,800 mm per annum in the south to 2,600 mm per annum in the north. Over most of the country, potential evaporation is at least five times greater than average rainfall.
Namibia is characterized by high temperatures, with mean annual temperatures ranging from 14.3°C to 24.2°C. Mean annual temperatures are high in continental regions, reaching above 22°C in the north and lower in the coastal areas (this is moderated by the Benguela current), reaching below 16°C in the southern coast. Apart from the coastal zone, there is a distinct seasonal temperature regime, with the highest temperatures occurring just before the wet season in the wetter areas or during the wet season in the drier areas. The lowest temperatures occur during the dry season months of June to August. Daily maximum temperatures of above 40°C are recorded regularly and average temperatures do not fall below 0°C. In the continental regions, relative humidity averages between 25% and 70%. Both rainfall and temperature in Namibia are sensitive to the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) effect, and rainfall is below average during El Niño conditions.
Mean annual temperature for Namibia is 20.6°C, with average monthly temperatures ranging between 24°C (November to March) and 16°C (June, July). Mean annual precipitation is 269.2 mm. Rainfall occurs from October to April, with minimal rainfall in May and September, across the latest climatology, 1991-2020.
- Since the 1960s, increased mean, maximum and minimum temperatures have been observed, with a more rapid increase in nighttime, minimum, temperatures.
- Warming in Namibia has been higher than the global average.
- There have been significant increases in the frequency of days with maximum temperatures above 25°C and 35°C, with decreases in the frequency of days with minimum temperatures below 5°C.
- Changes in onset, duration and intensity of rainfall have been observed, indicating an increase in heavy rainfall events.
This section provides the options to visualize historical climate data for different timeframes via map and annual cycle chart.