Projected changes in the physical climate of the Gulf Coast and Caribbean

Biasutti, Michela; Sobel, Adam H.; Camargo, Suzana J.; Creyts, Timothy T.

As the global climate warms due to increasing greenhouse gases, the regional climate of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean region will also change. This study presents the latest estimates of the expected changes in temperature, precipitation, tropical cyclone activity, and sea level. Changes in temperature and precipitation are derived from climate model simulations produced for the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR4), by comparing projections for the mid- and late-21st century to the late 20th century and assuming a “middle-of-the-road” scenario for future greenhouse gas emissions. Regional simulations from the North America Regional Climate Change Program (NARCCAP) are used to corroborate the IPCC AR4 rainfall projections over the US portion of the domain. Changes in tropical cyclones and sea level are more uncertain, and our understanding of these variables has changed more since IPCC AR4 than in the case of temperature and precipitation. For these quantities, the current state of knowledge is described based on the recent peer-reviewed literature.

Geographic Areas


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Climatic Change