Modelling of extreme minimum rainfall using generalised extreme value distribution for Zimbabwe


  • Delson Chikobvu Department of Mathematical Statistics and Actuarial Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
  • Retius Chifurira School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa



minima, return level, mean annual rainfall, Bayesian approach, severe meteorological drought


We modelled the mean annual rainfall for data recorded in Zimbabwe from 1901 to 2009. Extreme value theory was used to estimate the probabilities of meteorological droughts. Droughts can be viewed as extreme events which go beyond and/or below normal rainfall occurrences, such as exceptionally low mean annual rainfall. The duality between the distribution of the minima and maxima was exploited and used to fit the generalised extreme value distribution (GEVD) to the data and hence find probabilities of extreme low levels of mean annual rainfall. The augmented Dickey Fuller test confirmed that rainfall data were stationary, while the normal quantile-quantile plot indicated that rainfall data deviated from the normality assumption at both ends of the tails of the distribution. The maximum likelihood estimation method and the Bayesian approach were used to find the parameters of the GEVD. The Kolmogorov–Smirnov and Anderson–Darling goodnessof- fit tests showed that the Weibull class of distributions was a good fit to the minima mean annual rainfall using the maximum likelihood estimation method. The mean return period estimate of a meteorological drought using the threshold value of mean annual rainfall of 473 mm was 8 years. This implies that if in the year there is a meteorological drought then another drought of the same intensity or greater is expected after 8 years. It is expected that the use of Bayesian inference may better quantify the level of uncertainty associated with the GEVD parameter estimates than with the maximum likelihood estimation method. The Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithm for the GEVD was applied to construct the model parameter estimates using the Bayesian approach. These findings are significant because results based on non-informative priors (Bayesian method) and the maximum likelihood method approach are expected to be similar.


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Chikobvu D, Chifurira R. Modelling of extreme minimum rainfall using generalised extreme value distribution for Zimbabwe. S. Afr. J. Sci. [Internet]. 2015 Sep. 25 [cited 2021 Dec. 2];111(9/10):8. Available from: