South African Journal of Science
On-line version ISSN 1996-7489
Print version ISSN 0038-2353
Following NASA's prediction of sunspot numbers for the current sunspot cycle, Cycle 24, we now include sunspot numbers as an explanatory variable in a statistical model. This model is based on fitting monthly rainfall values with factors and covariates obtained from solar-lunar geometry values and sunspot numbers. The model demonstrates high predictive skill in estimating monthly values by achieving a correlation coefficient of 0.9 between model estimates and the measurements. Estimates for monthly total rainfall for the period from 1901 to 2020 for Kenya indicate that the model can be used not only to estimate historical values of rainfall, but also to predict monthly total rainfall. We have found that the 11-year solar sunspot cycle has an influence on the frequency and timing of extreme hydrology events in Kenya, with these events occurring every 5±2 years after the turning points of sunspot cycles. While solar declination is the major driver of monthly variability, sunspots and the lunar declinations play a role in the annual variability and may have influenced the occurrence of the Sahelian drought of the mid-1980s that affected the Sahel region including the Greater Horn of Africa. Judging from the reflection symmetry, the trend of the current maximum and the turning point of the sunspot minimum at the end of the Modern Maximum, with a 95% level of confidence, drought conditions similar to those of the early 1920s may reoccur in the year 2020±2.
Keywords : sunspot numbers; solar declination; lunar declination; statistical rainfall model; rainfall projection.