Influence of the tropical Atlantic versus the tropical Pacific on Caribbean rainfall



[1] The Caribbean rainfall season runs from May through November and is distinctly bimodal in nature. The bimodality allows for a convenient division into an early season (May–June–July) and a late season (August–September–October). Evidence suggests that interannual variability in the early season is influenced strongly by anomalies in the sea surface temperatures of the tropical North Atlantic, with positive anomalies over a narrow latitudinal band (0°–20°N) being associated with enhanced Caribbean rainfall. The coincidence of this band with the main development region for tropical waves suggests a modification of the development of the waves by the warmer tropical Atlantic. The strong influence of the tropical North Atlantic wanes in the late season, with the equatorial Pacific and equatorial Atlantic becoming more significant modulators of interannual variability. The spatial pattern of significant correlation suggests strongly the influence of the El Niño/La Niña phenomenon, with a warm Pacific associated with a depressed late season and vice versa. There additionally seems to be a robust relationship between late season Caribbean rainfall and an east-west gradient of sea surface temperature (SST) between the two equatorial oceanic basins. Oppositely signed SST anomalies in the NINO3 region and the central equatorial Atlantic (0°–15°W, 5°S–5°N) are well correlated with Caribbean rainfall for this period.