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Historical trends in Florida temperature and precipitation

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Abstract

Because of its low topographic relief, unique hydrology, and the large interannual variability of precipitation, Florida is especially vulnerable to climate change. In this paper, we investigate a comprehensive collection of climate metrics to study historical trends in both averages and extremes of precipitation and temperature in the state. The data investigated consist of long-term records (1892–2008) of precipitation and raw (unadjusted) temperature at 32 stations distributed throughout the state. To evaluate trends in climate metrics, we use an iterative pre-whitening method, which aims to separate positive autocorrelation from trend present in time series.

Results show a general decrease in wet season precipitation, most evident for the month of May and possibly tied to a delayed onset of the wet season. In contrast, there seems to be an increase in the number of wet days during the dry season, especially during November through January. We found that the number of dog days (above 26.7 °C) during the year and during the wet season has increased at many locations. For the post-1950 period, a widespread decrease in the daily temperature range (DTR) is observed mainly because of increased daily minimum temperature (Tmin). Although we did not attempt to formally attribute these trends to natural versus anthropogenic causes, we find that the urban heat island effect is at least partially responsible for the increase in Tmin and its corresponding decrease in DTR at urbanized stations compared with nearby rural stations. In the future, a formal trend attribution study should be conducted for the region. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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