Meteorologists meet to discuss Caribbean climate change
EIGHTEEN meteorological data managers across the Caribbean region and beyond met recently at the University of the West Indies, Mona, to examine issues related to Caribbean climate data.
The necessity for such a workshop arose from an examination of historical records spanning several decades, which revealed that the climate globally has undergone change. Warmer days and melting ice caps now characterise some regions of the world, whilst for others more extreme events (floods, droughts, hurricanes) have become the norm. There is much talk recently of the effects of global warming and climatologists are looking at any discernible change in our climate in the past half century.
The mixed group of participants concurred that in order to address the issues of climate change detection, there is need for good quality climate datasets of observed climate variables (rainfall amounts, maximum and minimum daily temperatures) across the region. Once good quality datasets can be identified and procurred, they can then be analysed for evidence of change in climate.
Participants took sample climate data from their respective territories, which were used to train them in methods to quality check the date to remove apparent inconsistencies and possible errors. Further, an innovative programme called ‘Climdex’ was developed and was used to analyse the data from all the territories for evidence of climate change in the region.
This workshop has concluded that Caribbean days and nights have warmed over the past half a century. It was agreed that the results were significant enough to warrant a continuation of the analysis by each person in their respective territories, using the more extensive datasets that exist at their meteorological services. The Climate Studies Group in the Department of Physics at UWI also agreed to undertake the coordination of the future analysis which it is hoped will eventually be combined for the publication of a paper on Caribbean climate change.
Arising from the workshops were recommendations for the repeat of an identical workshop to be held in Morocco early this year. The conference organisers, however, while pleased, also stressed that this is but the beginning , and there is much more to be done to reveal the true evidence of climate change within the Caribbean region.
This workshop was jointly sponsored by UWI, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) through a grant from the National Aeronautical Space Agency (NASA). Apart from the date managers from the regions’ meteorological services, the workshop also had representation from the USA (National Climatic Data Centre and the Hurricane Research Division), the Netherlands (KNMI), Australia *the Bureau of Meteorology), and the United Kingdom (The Hadley Centre).