Changes in extreme temperature and precipitation in the Caribbean region, 1961–2010

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ABSTRACT

A workshop was held at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica, in May 2012 to build capacity in climate data rescue and to enhance knowledge about climate change in the Caribbean region. Scientists brought their daily observational surface temperature and precipitation data from weather stations for an assessment of quality and homogeneity and for the calculation of climate indices helpful for studying climate change in their region. This study presents the trends in daily and extreme temperature and precipitation indices in the Caribbean region for records spanning the 1961–2010 and 1986–2010 intervals. Overall, the results show a warming of the surface air temperature at land stations. In general, the indices based on minimum temperature show stronger warming trends than indices calculated from maximum temperature. The frequency of warm days, warm nights and extreme high temperatures has increased while fewer cool days, cool nights and extreme low temperatures were found for both periods. Changes in precipitation indices are less consistent and the trends are generally weak. Small positive trends were found in annual total precipitation, daily intensity, maximum number of consecutive dry days and heavy rainfall events particularly during the period 1986–2010. Correlations between indices and the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) index suggest that temperature variability and, to a lesser extent, precipitation extremes are related to the AMO signal of the North Atlantic surface sea temperatures: stronger associations are found in August and September for the temperature indices and in June and October for some of the precipitation indices.

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