As is true of many tropical regions, northeastern Puerto Rico is an ecologically sensitive area with biological life that is highly elevation dependent on precipitation and temperature. Climate change has the potential to increase the risk of losing endemic species and habitats. Consequently, it is important to explore the pattern of trends in precipitation and temperature along an elevation gradient. Statistical derivatives of a frequently sampled dataset of precipitation and temperature at 20 sites along an elevation gradient of 1000 m in northeastern Puerto Rico were examined for trends from 2001 to 2013 with nonparametric methods accounting for annual periodic variations such as yearly weather cycles. Overall daily precipitation had an increasing trend of around 0.1 mm day21 yr21. The driest months of the annual dry, early, and late rainfall seasons showed a small increasing trend in the precipitation (around 0.1 mm day21 yr21). There was strong evidence that precipitation in the driest months of each rainfall season increased faster at higher elevations (0.02 mm day21 more increase for 100-m elevation gain) and some evidence for the same pattern in precipitation in all months of the year but at half the rate. Temperature had a positive trend in the daily minimum (around 0.028C yr21) and a negative trend in the daily maximum whose size is likely an order of magnitude larger than the size of the daily minimum trend. Physical mechanisms behind the trends may be related to climate change; longer-term studies will need to be undertaken in order to assess the future climatic trajectory of tropical forests.
Van Beusekom A.E.,González G., and Rivera M.M. (2014): Short-Term Precipitation and Temperature Trends along an Elevation Gradient in Northeastern Puerto Rico. Earth Interactions. DOI: 10.1175/EI-D-14-0023.1
This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.