Drought in the Insular Caribbean and the Effects of Low-Frequency Atmospheric Circulation Patterns

Authors: Flavia Dias De Souza Moraes*, University of Georgia
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology, Caribbean Geographies, Physical Geography
Keywords: Insular Caribbean, Drought, Teleconnections
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 46
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The insular Caribbean is one of the areas of the globe where more hazard-related events occur, including but not limited to hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruption, and drought. While hurricane hazards are well explored in scientific literature, drought is considered one of the neglected hazards because of the lack of studies focusing on its causes and effects. This study aims to identify the spatial distribution of seasonal insular Caribbean drought from 1950-2017, and its relationship with Eastern Pacific (EP) and Central Pacific (CP) ENSO, North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), and Atlantic Meridional Mode (AMM). We use the high-resolution drought atlas (4 km), created by Herrera and Ault (Cornell University), based on monthly estimates of the self-calibrating Palmer Drought Severity Index (scPDSI), to analyze the spatial distribution of drought. We also divided the insular Caribbean into two subregions: Greater Antilles and Bahamas (GAB), and the Lesser Antilles (LA) and used the teleconnection indices from NOAA to represent the two types of ENSO, NAO, and AMM. The results indicate that AMM has the strongest positive correlation with both GAB and LA drought during April-November, while the NAO is slightly stronger correlated with GAB than with LA from July-November. For ENSO, CP El NiƱo years relate stronger with drought in the LA from Dec-Jul, while the relationship between the two types of ENSO and the GAB is not statistically significant at 95% level. These findings could improve drought regional forecasts to help the region to better prepare for the possibility of seasonal droughts.

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