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Trinidad & Tobago - Environment

The islands experience a tropical climate with good weather throughout the year. There is a dry season which runs from January to May, and a wet season which runs from June to December. Temperatures range from 80 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Situated just outside the hurricane zone, Trinidad and Tobago rarely experiences the hurricanes which have devastated so many of its sister islands in the Caribbean.

Trinidad and Tobago, well within the tropics, both enjoy a generally pleasant maritime tropical climate influenced by the northeast trade winds. In Trinidad the annual mean temperature is 26C, and the average maximum temperature is 33C. The humidity is high, particularly during the rainy season, when it averages 85 to 87 percent. The island receives an average of 211 centimeters of rainfall per year, usually concentrated in the months of June through December, when brief, intense showers frequently occur. Precipitation is highest in the Northern Range, which may receive as much as 381 centimeters. During the dry season, drought plagues the island's central interior.

Tobago's climate is similar to Trinidad's but slightly cooler. Its rainy season extends from June to December; the annual rainfall is 250 centimeters. The islands lie outside the hurricane belt; despite this, Hurricane Flora damaged Tobago in 1963, and Tropical Storm Alma hit Trinidad in 1974, causing damage before obtaining full strength.

There are several studies that found evidence of recent changes in the climate in Trinidad and Tobago. It has been shown that, over the last three (3) decades, there has been an upward trend in temperatures. The Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service (TTMS) found that the annual mean air temperature has warmed over the period 1981-2010 by 0.8 and 0.5 C relative to 1961-1990 and 1971-1990, for Trinidad and Tobago respectively. That anomalous warming per decade is consistent with those observed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2007) for the Caribbean region.

According to the IPCC, the Caribbean region is projected to see an increase in temperature of between 0.94 to 4.18 degrees Celcius while rainfall is projected to undergo changes of between -49.4 to 28.9% by 2069 (relative to the 1961-1990 period). Sea level is also expected to rise 15 to 95 cm by 2100. These changes are forecasted to expose the Caribbean islands to:

  • more intense and frequent disasters or novel ones altogether
  • increased coastal flooding and salt water intrusion into fresh water aquifers (a major issue in light of sea level rise).
  • heat waves and drought, which have accompanying hazards such as forest fires, are predicted to become more commonplace
  • higher rainfall in the wet season and more regular, powerful storms which can exasperate flooding concerns
  • altered hurricane tracks so that islands such as Trinidad and Tobago, may be forced to cope more regularly with this natural disaster.

In terms of vulnerability to the effects of climate change, Trinidad and Tobagos exposure to possible impacts has been well documented. As a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), the country is vulnerable to temperature increases, changes in precipitation and sea level rise. Other vulnerabilities include increased flooding, increased frequency and intensity of hurricanes, hillside erosion and loss of coastal habitats. In fact, even though Trinidad and Tobago is not in the main Atlantic hurricane belt, one of the new natural hazards scenarios considered for the country is the increased potential to be hit by tropical storms.

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Page last modified: 23-05-2017 15:48:44 ZULU