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Frequency and long-term distribution of

coastal winds of Tanzania


A.M. Dubi
Institute of Marine Sciences, University of Dar es Salaam,
P. O. Box 668, Zanzibar, Tanzania

ABSTRACT
Wind data records of four major coastal locations (Tanga, Dar es Salaam,
Zanzibar and Mtwara) of Tanzania covering the period between 1972 and
1996 were analysed to determine maximum windsfrequency, long-term
distribution and general trends. Results show that Tanga, Dar es Salaam
and Mtwara experienced peak speeds during July/August and Zanzibar
experienced peak speeds in January. At Mtwara, maximum wind speeds
have been linearly increasing since 1972, whereas at the other three
locations, the speeds show a decreasing trend. The mode for Mtwara is
30 knots and that for Tanga, Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam is 20 knots.
Mtwara has the highest location parameter B = 26, followed by Zanzibar
and Tanga with B = 20. Dar es Salaam has the lowest of them all. In
terms of wind activity, Mtwara and Zanzibar experienced offshore winds,
while Dar es Salaam was more influenced by coastal winds. Of all the
coastal locations, Mtwara experienced the strongest winds, which certainly
resulted in increased wave activity, stronger currents and wind set-up.

INTRODUCTION
The United Republic of Tanzania is located on the eastern coast of Africa, between 1
00' 11 48' S and 29 30' E. It is composed of Mainland Tanzania and the Islands of
Zanzibar (Unguja and Pemba). The Indian Ocean borders its entire eastern frontier
(Figure 1). Tanzania has an estimated total land area of 945,200km2 with mainland
Tanzania covering an area of 942,800km2. The Zanzibar islands cover 2400km2.
The coastline of Tanzania extends for about 800km on the mainland, 430km
around Unguja Island and 450km around Pemba Island. The coastline of Mainland
Tanzania extends from the border with Kenya in the north to Ruvuma River in the south
(Figure 1). The coastal zone of Tanzania includes five administrative regions Tanga,
Coast, Dar es Salaam, Lindi and Mtwara, as well as the three large islands Unguja and
Pemba (which make up Zanzibar) and Mafia and numerous islets. About two thirds of
the coastline has fringing reefs, often close to the shoreline, broken by river outlets
such as the Rufiji Delta, Pangani, Ruvuma, Wami and Ruvu. The continental shelf is

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about 5.8km wide, except at the Zanzibar and Mafia channels where the continental shelf
reaches a width of about 62km. The nation
s total estimated shelf area is 17,500km2.
The coastal waters of Tanzania are influenced by two alternating seasons; namely
the southerly and northerly monsoons (Newell, 1957). The southerly monsoons,

Figure 1. The coastline of Tanzania and locations considered in this paper

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beginning in April and ending in October/November, are usually strong and predominantly
southerly. The northerly monsoons begin in November and end in March. These are
lighter winds and are predominantly northerly. Circulation of the coastal waters of East
Africa is strongly influenced by these winds. The East African Coastal Current (EACC) is
an important hydrographic feature of the East African coastal waters. Newell (1957)
described the current as one that moves northward throughout the year, but changes
speeds during the two monsoon seasons. During the southerly monsoons, it moves
with a speed of about 4 knots after being accelerated by the trade winds. During the
northerly monsoons, the current is retarded by the northerly winds along this coast.
From the equator northwards, it is reversed to flow in the southerly direction. The
reversed current meets the much-decelerated EACC at about 1S, where both are
deflected out to the sea forming the Equatorial Counter Current (Figures 2a and 2b).
As wind has multiple effects on ocean circulation, waves and sea level fluctuations,
it is important to study wind patterns in order to evaluate the frequency of maximum
wind speeds, the distribution and return speeds of extreme winds. In order to evaluate
extreme wind speeds, annual maximum series are fitted to some distribution functions.
The commonly employed functions are the Fisher-Tippett (FT) type I & II, the Weibull
and log-normal distributions. Other formulae are also cited in the literature. Petruaskas
and Aagaard (1970) presented a procedure to select the best fitting distribution function
among a set of the Weibull and the FT-I distributions advocating the Weibull distribution.
According to Goda (1988), the use of the log-normal distribution should not be considered
until positive evidence for its support is produced. Dubi (1999) used Goda
s method to
evaluate extreme wind speeds of coastal Tanzania.
Lwambuka (1992) compiled 18-year wind data of several locations in Tanzania
including Tanga, Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam and Mtwara. Using the method of moments,
he fitted only the FT-I distribution function and found 50-year extreme gust speeds
(1.9 x extreme wind speed) to be 30m/s for Tanga, 29m/s for Zanzibar, 27m/s for Dar
es Salaam and 38m/s for Mtwara.
This paper is a complement for the paper by Dubi (1999) on the evaluation of
extreme wind speeds in relation to the design of coastal structures in Tanzania. The
main objectives of the present paper are to evaluate the frequency of the maximum
wind speeds and their cumulative distributions, and to review statistical and other
parameters related to the winds. This information is required in the evaluation of wave
climate and currents in the coastal waters of Tanzania.

DISTRIBUTION FUNCTIONS FOR EXTREME VALUE ANALYSIS


As there is no strong theoretical or empirical evidence for selecting a particular probability
distribution function, the approach commonly used is to try several candidate distributions
with each data set and select the one that fits best. Following Goda (1988), Dubi
(1999) fitted two distribution functions to the annual maximum wind speeds to find
extreme wind speeds and 50- and 100-year return wind speeds. The candidate

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Figure 2a. North East Trade Winds (adapted from Linden & Lundin, 1996)

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Figure 2b. South East Trade Winds (adapted from Linden & Lundin, 1996)

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distributions are:
The Fisher-Tippett Type I (FT-I) Distribution given by:

F (V ) = exp( exp( (V B ) / A)

(1)

and
The Weibull Distribution given by:
F(V)=1exp[{(VB)/A}k]

(2)

where F(V) is the probability of non-exceedance of the statistical wind speed


variable V, B > V is the location parameter, A is the scale parameter and k > 0 is the shape
parameter.
The input data are then arranged in descending order of magnitude from the
largest to the smallest of the wind speeds. Then a probability or plotting position is
assigned to each wind speed using Gringorten
s (1963) formula for FT-I and the modified
formula (by Goda, 1988) of Petruaskas and Aagaard (1970) as follows:

F (Vm ) = 1

m 0.44
N T + 012
.
m 0.20

F (Vm ) = 1

N T + 0.20 +

0.27
k
0.23
k

for FT - I

for Weibull

(3)

where F (Vm) is the probability of the m-th value of wind speed not being exceeded,
m being the rank of the wind speed. NT is the total number of events during the length
of a record, which in our case, has been taken to be equal to the number of input wind
speeds.
The scale and location parameters A and B in equations (1) and (2) are related
linearly as:
Vm = AYm + B,

m = 1, 2, ......., N

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(4)

where Vm is the m-th largest value of the wind speed and Ym is the reduced variate
for the m-th value of the wind speed. This reduced variate is related to F (Vm) as:

for Weibull

Ym = - ln[ -ln F (Vm ) ],


Ym = {- ln [1 - F (Vm ) ]}

for FT - I
1
k

(5)

The parameters A and B are evaluated using the Least Squares method applied
between the ordered pair of Vm and its reduced variate Ym for the two candidate
distribution functions.
Wind speeds for various return periods are calculated by the following equations
(Goda, 1988):
Vr=Ayr+B

(6)

where
Vr = wind speed with return period Tr

y r = ln ln1 1 for FT - I

Tr

1
y r = ln( Tr ) k
for Weibull

=
Tr =

(7)

NT/K = average number of events per year = 1 in this analysis.


return period in years and K = length of record in years

Since the period of record for this data is relatively short and the level of uncertainty
in extreme estimates with long return periods is high, confidence intervals are calculated
to give a quantitative indicator of the level of uncertainty in the estimated extreme
wind speeds.
Confidence intervals are calculated following the approach of Goda (1988) for
estimating standard deviation of return values when the true distribution is known.
Table 1 gives factors by which the standard error is multiplied to get bounds with
various levels of confidence.

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Table 1. Confidence interval bounds for extreme wind speeds


Confidence level
(%)
80
85
90
95
99

Confidence interval
bounds around Vr

1.28
1.44
1.65
1.96
2.58

Probability of exceeding
upper bound (%)
10.0
7.5
5.0
2.5
0.5

In order to select the best fit distribution function, the correlation between variables
in the linear equation (4) and the sum of the squares of residuals are used. The sum of
the squares of residuals is given by:
N

R = [
V m ( AYm + B )]
2

(8)

m =1

The distribution function that gives the highest correlation and the smallest sum
of the squares of residuals has been selected.

DATA SET
Wind data records for Tanga, Dar es Salaam, Mtwara and Zanzibar for the period between
1972 and 1996 were obtained for analysis from the respective airport authorities. These
3-hourly records of wind speeds and direction at airport stations are recorded by a rotating
cup anemometer mounted at the top of a 10-meter high tower. The maximum value in
every month for each location was taken to constitute the data set. Figure 3 shows the
maximum wind speeds recorded for each month of the 25-year period. Figure 4 shows
maximum wind speeds in each year of the 25-year period.

RESULTS
General trend of maximum wind speeds
Figure 3 reveals peak speeds of the maximum speeds during January and July. Tanga and
Zanzibar experienced peak speeds in January, while Mtwara experienced peak speeds
July. Dar es Salaam experienced peak speeds during both January and July.
Figure 4 shows that maximum wind speeds at Mtwara have been linearly increasing
since 1972, whereas at the other three locations, the speeds show a decreasing trend.
Zanzibar winds also exhibit a peak in the period 19791982. Dar es Salaam winds show
two peaks: one peak is seen in the period 19751979 and another during 198184, after
which the speeds decrease. Tanga winds exhibit two peaks: one in the period 19741977
and another during 19911993.

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Figure 3. Monthly maximum wind speeds recorded in the period 197296

Figure 4. Annual maximum wind speed recorded in the period 197296

Frequency of occurrence and cumulative distribution of maximum wind


speeds
Figures 58 show the frequency of occurrence and cumulative distribution of the
maximum wind speeds. Some of the statistical parameters are shown in Table 2.

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Based on the correlation coefficient and the sum of the squares of residuals, Dubi
(1999) selected distribution functions that fitted best. They were Weibull (k =1.0) for
Tanga winds, FT-I for Zanzibar winds, Weibull (k = 2) for Dar es Salaam and Mtwara
winds. Model parameters corresponding to the distribution functions are shown in Tables
36. The selected distribution function is shown in bold and italic format.

Figure 5. Frequency of occurrence and cumulative distribution of Tanga winds

Figure 6. Frequency of occurrence and cumulative distribution of Zanzibar winds

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Figure 7. Frequency of occurrence and cumulative distribution of Dar es Salaam winds

Figure 8. Frequency of occurrence and cumulative distribution of Mtwara winds


Table 2. Statistical parameters of the maximum wind speeds
Location
Parameter
Mean (kts.)
Mode (kts.)
Minimum (kts.)
Maximum(kts.)

Tanga

Zanzibar

Dar es Salaam

Mtwara

20.2
20.0
18.0
27.0

21.5
20.0
16.0
30.0

20.3
20.0
15.0
26.0

27.3
30.0
20.0
35.0

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Table 3. Tanga winds (Mean of sample data = 20.20 knots, std = 2.708
knots)
Weibull Distribution
Parameters

FT-I

k = 0.75

k = 1.00

k = 1.40

k = 2.00

A
B
Correlation
Sum of squares
of residuals (R2)

2.056
19.047
0.9330

1.730
18.150
0.9435

2.736
17.472
0.9559

4.026
16.535
0.9449

5.529
15.302
0.9182

0.2739

0.5444

0.2016

0.2447

0.3159

Return period (yrs)

Return wind speed (knots)

50
100

27.07
28.51

28.82
31.41

28.17
30.07

27.20
28.52

26.24
27.17

Table 4. Zanzibar winds (Mean of sample data = 21.458 knots, std = 3.007
knots)
Weibull Distribution
Parameters

FT-I

k = 0.75

k = 1.00

k = 1.40

k = 2.00

A
B
Correlation
Sum of squares
of residuals (R2)

2.385
20.123
0.9733

1.885
19.226
0.9234

3.030
18.437
0.9521

4.577
17.292
0.9662

6.467
15.729
0.9662

0.1165

0.2523

0.2059

0.1322

0.1142

Return period (yrs)

Return wind speed (knots)

50
100

29.43
31.09

30.85
33.87

30.29
32.39

29.42
30.92

28.52
29.61

Table 5. Dar es Salaam winds (Mean of sample data = 20.00 knots, std =
2.828 knots)
Weibull Distribution
Parameters

FT-I

k = 0.75

k = 1.00

k = 1.40

k = 2.00

A
B
Correlation
Sum of squares
of residuals (R2)

2.246
18.742
0.9747

1.712
17.973
0.8914

2.809
17.199
0.9382

4.312
16.074
0.9678

6.161
14.541
0.9787

0.1206

0.5731

0.1908

0.1394

0.1091

Return period (yrs)

Return wind speed (knots)

50
100

27.51
29.08

28.52
31.09

142

28.19
30.13

27.50
28.91

26.73
27.76

Table 6. Mtwara winds (Mean of sample data = 27.292 knots, std = 3.712
knots)
Weibull Distribution
Parameters

FT-I

k = 0.75

k = 1.00

k = 1.40

k = 2.00

A
B
Correlation
Sum of squares
of residuals (R2)

2.875
25.682
0.9503

2.137
24.760
0.8480

3.525
23.777
0.8970

5.463
22.318
0.9342

7.894
20.298
0.9554

0.1240

0.3303

0.2301

0.1653

0.1161

Return period (yrs)

Return wind speed (knots)

50
100

36.90
38.91

37.93
41.13

37.57
40.01

36.79
38.58

35.91
37.24

CONCLUSION
Coastal processes and hydrographic conditions of near-shore and offshore waters are
strongly influenced by winds. From an examination of the monthly and annual maximum
wind speeds, the response of beaches and coastal water circulation can be deduced.
Beginning 1986 until 1996 Mtwara experienced increasing maximum winds reaching a
peak of 35 knots. This trend certainly resulted in increased shoreline retreat due to increased
wave activity, stronger currents and wind set-up. Maximum values of Tanga winds show
a peak in the periods 19721976 and 19901993. Zanzibar winds had a peak in 1979
1981. These are the periods in which increased coastal processes are expected.
Zanzibar and Mtwara have the same location parameter, B, which is approximately
20, followed by Tanga with a parameter 17.5. Dar es Salaam has the lowest of all. In
terms of wind activity, Zanzibar and Mtwara experience offshore winds, while Dar es
Salaam is more influenced by coastal winds. Tanga is influenced mostly by offshore winds.
Of all the coastal stations, Mtwara experienced the strongest winds, while Dar es Salaam
experienced the weakest winds.

REFERENCES
Bowden, K. F. 1983. Physical Oceanography of Coastal Waters. Ellis Horwood Ltd.
Dubi, A. M. 1999. Evaluation of extreme wind speeds in relation to the design of coastal
structures in Tanzania. Uhandisi Journal 23(1): 5763.
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Proceedings, 21st International Conference on Coastal Engineering, American Society
of Civil Engineers, Costa del Sol-Malaga, Spain.
Gringorten, I. I. 1963. A plotting rule for extreme probability paper. Journal of Geophysical
Research 68 (3): 813814.
Linden, O. & Lundin, C.G. (eds) 1996. Proceedings of the National Workshop on Integrated
Coastal Zone Management in Tanzania.
Lwambuka, L. 1992. Evaluation of wind data records to predict extreme wind speeds in
Tanzania. Uhandisi Journal 16 (1).

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Newell, B.S. 1957. A preliminary survey of the hydrography of the British East African Coastal
waters. Fishery Publications No. 9. Her Majesty
s Stationery Office, London, 21pp.
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