Environment

Temperatures rise in Jamaica

BY DENISE DENNIS Environment Watch staff reporter dennisd@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, August 29, 2012    

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RESEARCH done by Jamaica's Meteorological Office has revealed significant increases in temperature over the last 20 years, which could be attributed to the climate change.

Though quick to point out that they could not conclusively say that the temperature increases over the years is as a result of the troubling phenomenon, meteorologist and acting section head of data processing Adrian Shaw said the Hot Summers Experiment — as they have dubbed their investigations — revealed that increases have, over the years, been increasingly significant for the months of July, August and September.

"There have been significant increases in temperature values and these changes may be attributable to climate change. However, more data and by extension, further research, would need to be done," he said.

Shaw explained that to make a conclusive link between the increases in temperature and climate change, they would need to have 30 years of unbroken data. They had available only 15 to 20 years of data for their experiment.

"You have to be careful because to [link] this with climate change, a number of things has to be done. You have to first use a station that has been homogenous for a number of years, meaning nothing has happened with the station in terms of parameters and instruments and that no trees have grown over the station to affect the temperature of the station," he said.

The study used data collected at five stations — Bodles Research Station in St Catherine, Duckenfield Sugar Factory in St Thomas, the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, Discovery Bay Marine Lab in St Ann, and Worthy Park Estate in St Catherine.

Shaw said Worthy Park Estate and Bodles Research Station have been used since 1971, such that the data from those stations are long-term data.

Of the five stations used, three of them — Bodles Research Station in St Catherine, Duckenfield Sugar Factory in St Thomas and Discovery Bay Marine Lab in St Ann — show that the areas they cover have been experiencing warmer summers over the years. The data collected from Worthy Park Estate and Norman Manley showed significantly increased temperatures in the summer period.

Shaw said that there was a similar trend of significantly increased temperatures in the average maximum daily temperature for each year.

"What we do is we get all the maximum temperatures for each station and we average these maximum temperatures for each of the years and then the research reveals that three of the five stations are experiencing warmer days for which Worthy Park and Bodles experienced significant increases," he noted.

However, Norman Manley Airport showed a decrease in the average maximum daily temperature for each year. Shaw theorised that this could be due to changes at the site, including new construction or the growth of trees which block sunlight.

"What the data is [indicating] for most of the stations is that there has been a general increase in temperatures; in mean maximum temperatures with increases in more maximum temperatures to above 25 degrees Celsius," the meteorologist said.

One effect of climate change is global warming, which is due to carbon dioxide and other gases trapping heat in the atmosphere leading to high temperature levels.

"Increases in CO2 [carbon dioxide] and other gases which capture the heat and re-emit it to the earth's surface cause the place to become hotter; and we have seen that trend at some of the stations," Shaw said.

He noted that the data has been placed in a model to project temperature trends for 2030, 2050 and 2080, and it is expected that the trend will continue to increase.

However, Shaw said he hopes that with the current focus on climate change, the effects will be minimised and global warming will be reduced; to stop temperatures from increasing above 1.5 to two degrees Celsius.

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