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Michael A. Taylor, Leonardo A. Clarke, Abel Centella, Arnoldo Bezanilla, Tannecia S. Stephenson, Jhordanne J. Jones, Jayaka D. Campbell, Alejandro Vichot, and John Charlery

Abstract

A 10-member ensemble from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) is used to analyze the Caribbean’s future climate when mean global surface air temperatures are 1.5°, 2.0°, and 2.5°C above preindustrial (1861–1900) values. The global warming targets are attained by the 2030s, 2050s, and 2070s respectively for RCP4.5. The Caribbean on average exhibits smaller mean surface air temperature increases than the globe, although there are parts of the region that are always warmer than the global warming targets. In comparison to the present (using a 1971–2000 baseline), the Caribbean domain is 0.5° to 1.5°C warmer at the 1.5°C target, 5%–10% wetter except for the northeast and southeast Caribbean, which are drier, and experiences increases in annual warm spells of more than 100 days. At the 2.0°C target, there is additional warming by 0.2°–1.0°C, a further extension of warm spells by up to 70 days, a shift to a predominantly drier region (5%–15% less than present day), and a greater occurrence of droughts. The climate patterns at 2.5°C indicate an intensification of the changes seen at 2.0°C. The shift in the rainfall pattern between 1.5°C (wet) and 2.0°C (dry) for parts of the domain has implications for regional adaptation pursuits. The results provide some justification for the lobby by the Caribbean Community and Small Island Developing States to limit global warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels, as embodied in the slogan “1.5 to Stay Alive.”

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J. W. Hurrell, M. Visbeck, A. Busalacchi, R. A. Clarke, T. L. Delworth, R. R. Dickson, W. E. Johns, K. P. Koltermann, Y. Kushnir, D. Marshall, C. Mauritzen, M. S. McCartney, A. Piola, C. Reason, G. Reverdin, F. Schott, R. Sutton, I. Wainer, and D. Wright

Abstract

Three interrelated climate phenomena are at the center of the Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR) Atlantic research: tropical Atlantic variability (TAV), the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), and the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (MOC). These phenomena produce a myriad of impacts on society and the environment on seasonal, interannual, and longer time scales through variability manifest as coherent fluctuations in ocean and land temperature, rainfall, and extreme events. Improved understanding of this variability is essential for assessing the likely range of future climate fluctuations and the extent to which they may be predictable, as well as understanding the potential impact of human-induced climate change. CLIVAR is addressing these issues through prioritized and integrated plans for short-term and sustained observations, basin-scale reanalysis, and modeling and theoretical investigations of the coupled Atlantic climate system and its links to remote regions. In this paper, a brief review of the state of understanding of Atlantic climate variability and achievements to date is provided. Considerable discussion is given to future challenges related to building and sustaining observing systems, developing synthesis strategies to support understanding and attribution of observed change, understanding sources of predictability, and developing prediction systems in order to meet the scientific objectives of the CLIVAR Atlantic program.

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