Climate Change’s Pulse is in Central America and the Caribbean


A recent article in EOS-Earth & Science News, “Climate Change’s Pulse is in Central America and the Caribbean,” by J. E. González, M. Georgescu, M. C. Lemos, N. Hosannah, and D. Niyogi, states that nations that border the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea are ideally placed for tracking the effects of global climate change and testing innovative ways to adapt to future changes. Here are excerpts:

Identified by some as a “hot spot” for its sensitivity to global climate change [Giorgi, 2006], the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean region is uniquely positioned to serve as the world’s climate change pulse. Events that play out here will be not only a warning signal of broader climate change to come but also a harbinger of social and economic responses to these changes.

The region could also be an exemplar of innovative responses to environmental change. This example, in turn, could function as a blueprint for similar mitigation and adaptation efforts elsewhere in the world.

A Region of Convergence

The Mesoamerican and Caribbean (MAC) region encompasses the coastal and island states abutting the western Atlantic, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, eastern tropical Pacific adjacent to Central America, and northwestern South America. Multiple dynamic atmospheric and oceanic processes converge in the MAC region [Gamble and Curtis, 2008; Zhang, 2013], making it particularly sensitive to the effects of climate. The global trend of increasing sea surface temperatures, for example, may work with or against natural modes of climate variability in the region, highlighting the physical system’s complexity and nonlinear nature.

Hand in hand with these physical changes are the hazards they pose to people. More than 120 million people live in the area. Despite steady, albeit inequitable, economic growth during recent decades, the region has become increasingly exposed to climate-related pressures that threaten its social and economic well-being.

The region’s extensive coastlines, relatively low capacity to adapt to changing conditions, scarce natural resources, and limited infrastructure further intensify the perception of risk [Lane et al., 2013]. These factors also promote a sense of urgency toward action. [. . . ]

For full article, see

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