South Africa

Explore historical and projected climate data, climate data by sector, impacts, key vulnerabilities and what adaptation measures are being taken. Explore the overview for a general context of how climate change is affecting South Africa.

Climate Data Historical

South Africa’s geographic location results in an annual seasonal temperature cycle that peaks in the austral summer during January (30°C), and reaches a minimum during July (-2°C). Average annual rainfall is about 460 mm, but rainfall amount is lowest in the arid north-west, and increases southwards. South Africa’s mean annual rainfall ranges from less than 100 mm in the north-west to almost 1,200mm over the east and on the southern margins (Second National Communication, 2011). Key historical climate trends are summarized below:


  •  From 1961 to 2000, the occurrence of extreme cold days and nights has decreased by 3.7 and 6.0 days/ nights per decade, respectively, and the occurrence of extreme hot days and nights has increased by 8.2 and 8.6 days/nights per decade, respectively;
  • Warming trends are more obvious over the western interior, western and southern coastal regions, and less so over the central interior. Almost 90% of the stations recorded positive annual mean maximum temperature trends.


  • Rainfall variability is high over much of the country, though somewhat lower in the winter rainfall zones of the west;
  • Annual rainfall has shown no consistent trends across the southern African region, but there have been statistically significant increases in daily rainfall intensity and dry spell duration over the region;
  • There is some evidence for statistically significant increases in precipitation since the 1950s observed in the south-west of South Africa, and significant decreases in the north-east.

This section provides the options to visualize historical climate data for different timeframes via map and annual cycle chart.


Click on map to change chart data from country aggregated to site-specific data.