12B.4 Understanding the Future Characteristics of Caribbean Drought

Thursday, 26 January 2017: 11:15 AM
602 (Washington State Convention Center )
Elinor Martin, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK

Rainfall across the Caribbean is projected to decrease in the 21st century, a trend that many global climate models agree upon. However, we understand little about how this decreasing rainfall trend will manifest, in terms of frequency, duration, and intensity of drought events. Drought impacts across the Caribbean range from crop loses, increased food costs, and wild fires to severe landslides once the rain returns. These impacts were evident during 2015 when one of the most severe droughts in modern history hit the Caribbean. Thus, it is vital to understand the current and future characteristics of drought, and the large-scale climate drivers, in order to predict and prepare for future drought events. This study uses a combination of observations and global climate model output from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) to investigate Caribbean drought. The frequency, duration, and severity of droughts are estimated using the 6-month standardized precipitation index. Differences in current drought characteristics and the evolution of sea surface temperature in advance of drought events are apparent across the Caribbean. Trends in past and future drought frequency, duration, and intensity will be investigated across the region as well as the ability of the CMIP5 simulations to simulate the evolution of sea surface temperature in advance of drought events. The identification of the drivers of Caribbean droughts in observations and climate models allow us to better understand and potentially predict Caribbean droughts now and in the future.
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