Caribbean Outlook

Historically, the U.S. Caribbean region has experienced relatively stable seasonal rainfall patterns, moderate annual temperature fluctuations, and a variety of extreme weather events, such as tropical storms, hurricanes, and drought. However, these patterns are changing and are projected to be increasingly variable as atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations increase. Having evolved with these historic climate conditions, and given the small size and relatively isolated nature of these islands, Caribbean social, economic, and ecological systems are likely to be more sensitive to changes in temperature and precipitation than similar systems in the mainland United States. Source: Fourth National Climate Assessment

(top) Key indicators for monitoring climate variability and change in the U.S. Caribbean include sea level rise, ocean temperature and acidity, air temperature, rainfall patterns, frequency of extreme events, and changes in wildlife habitats. (bottom) Changes in these climate indicators result in environmental and social impacts to natural ecosystems, infrastructure, and society, including degradation of coral and marine habitats, increased coastal flooding and erosion, decrease in agricultural productivity, water supply shortages, negative effects on communities’ livelihoods and on human health, as well as economic challenges and decreased tourism appeal. Source: Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources.