Climate-related global changes in the southern Caribbean: Trinidad and Tobago

A climate change deriving from the atmospheric build up of greenhouse gases (GHG) is supposed to become evident by the middle of the next century. This GHG-induced climate change would supposedly lead to a global warming of about 2 to 4°C and a rise in mean sea level of about 60 cm towards the end of the next century. This study focuses on the field measurements and interpretations of a number of, supposedly, climate-driven regional changes, including shifts in climate and hydrology, coastal erosion and sedimentation, salinisation of coastal aquifers and estuaries, and also coral bleaching, in Trinidad and Tobago, in the southern Caribbean. The results show significant changes and shifts in temperature and rainfall, severe coastal erosion, approaching 2 to 4 m per year for certain beaches, appreciable salinisation of a number of coastal aquifers and an estuary along the Caroni swamp, in Trinidad, and what appears to be partial coral bleaching, at the Culloden Reef in Tobago. These field-observed regional changes may conceivably be interpreted as early signals of a GHG-induced climate change. However, in view of the uncertainty surrounding GHG-induced climate change and sea level rise and the limitations of our data, especially the length of record, caution must be exercised in the interpretation of these results.

Associated space

Trinidad and Tobago

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