Using the CHIRPS Dataset to Investigate Historical Changes in Precipitation Extremes in West Africa

This study aims to provide improved knowledge and evidence on current (1986–2015) climate variation based on six rainfall indices over five West African countries (Senegal, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, and Benin) using the Climate Hazards Group InfraRed Precipitation with Station (CHIRPS) dataset. On average, precipitation has increased over the central Sahel and the western Sahel. This increase is associated with increase in the number of rainy days, longer wet spells and shorter dry spells. Over the Guinea Coast, the slight increase in precipitation is associated with an increase in the intensity of rainfall with a shorter duration of wet spells. However, these mean changes in precipitation are not all statistically significant and uniform within a country. While previous studies are focused on regional and sub-regional scales, this study contributes to deliver a climate information at a country level that is more relevant for decision making and for policy makers, and to document climate-related risks within a country to feed impact studies in key sectors of the development, such as agriculture and water resources.