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Dr. Michael Taylor, researcher and lecturer in the Department of Physics at the University of the West Indies, has said that it is possible and feasible to forecast climate changes in the Caribbean.
Dr. Taylor, who has put forward his proposal in a paper entitled: ‘Production of Seasonal Forecasts and Climate Change Scenarios for the Caribbean’ noted that it was feasible to forecast climate change in the Caribbean, because the region had an average climate, with the wet season being between May and November.
His proposal is the basis of a collaborative research involving scientists from Barbados, Trinidad and Cuba, and is being funded in part by the CARICOM Climate Change Centre.
Dr. Taylor, who last year received the Young Scientist/Technologist Award from the Scientific Research Council for his work, has posited that climate forecasting was crucial to the agriculture and energy sectors, as there was need for these sectors to adapt to climate changes.
Defining climate change, Dr. Taylor explained that this was attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that altered the composition of the global atmosphere and, in addition to natural climate variability, was observed over comparable time periods.
Pointing to environmental challenges that countries such as Jamaica would face as a result of climate change, he mentioned more intense tropical storms, floods, reduced fresh water supplies, and a rise in sea level.
He said that seasonal forecasts and climate change scenarios would make it feasible to ascertain how best to mitigate the effects on agriculture and other sectors, by providing quarterly forecasts.
“The research is at the level where we should be able to produce a three-month forecast prior to the three-month season, giving an idea of what the rainfall and perhaps temperature will be within the region,” Dr. Taylor informed.
He pointed out however, that generating the possible scenarios would be a little different. “Long term climate change.looking at the Caribbean climate 50, 75 or 100 years into the future.this is done under various scenarios, some emphasizing a renewable energy future, and some emphasizing carbon dioxide emission increase and decrease,” he pointed out.
He explained further, that the “Caribbean model also shows between a one and three degree increase by the year 2075,” which he said, could be attributed to global warming from carbon dioxide emissions.
In terms of the effect on agriculture, Dr. Taylor noted that, “if we can forecast the climate, it would enlighten the agricultural sector and enable planning. Certainly, climate generated scenarios would afford long-term planning for the sector. Perhaps if it gets too hot we would need to switch crop varieties.”
“As it is, we are a climate sensitive region, the past hurricane season will attest to this. Even just prolonged periods of rain will affect us,” he emphasized.