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Geophys Res Lett. 2018 Oct 16;45(19):10619-10626. doi: 10.1029/2018GL079408. Epub 2018 Oct 7.

Exacerbation of the 2013-2016 Pan-Caribbean Drought by Anthropogenic Warming.

Author information

1
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Cornell University Ithaca NY USA.
2
Climate and Global Dynamics Division National Center for Atmospheric Research Boulder CO USA.
3
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Woods Hole MA USA.
4
NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies New York NY USA.
5
Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory Columbia University Palisades NY USA.

Abstract

The Caribbean islands are expected to see more frequent and severe droughts from reduced precipitation and increased evaporative demand due to anthropogenic climate change. Between 2013 and 2016, the Caribbean experienced a widespread drought due in part to El Niño in 2015-2016, but it is unknown whether its severity was exacerbated by anthropogenic warming. This work examines the role of recent warming on this drought, using a recently developed high-resolution self-calibrating Palmer Drought Severity Index data set. The resulting analysis suggest that anthropogenic warming accounted for ~15-17% of the drought's severity and ~7% of its spatial extent. These findings strongly suggest that climate model projected anthropogenic drying in the Caribbean is already underway, with major implications for the more than 43 million people currently living in this region.

KEYWORDS:

Caribbean; anthropogenic warming; drought

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