State of the Climate in Latin America and the Caribbean 2020
The State of the Climate in Latin America and the Caribbean 2020 is the first report of its kind to be released, under the auspices of the WMO Regional Association of South America and the Regional Association of North America Central America and the Caribbean. It focuses on a set of up-to-date key climate indicators, climate trends, and extreme weather and climate events which were recorded in 2020. The report aims at providing science-based knowledge that can contribute to informing decision making in climate change mitigation and adaptation. The 2020 report is the first in the series of the report; the second can be found here.
State of the Climate in Latin America and the Caribbean 2020 represents the first multi-agency effort involving National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs), WMO Regional Climate Centres (RCCs), research institutions, and international and regional organizations. A multidisciplinary group of 40 experts developed and reviewed this report through an interactive process coordinated by the WMO Offices for Regional Association III and Regional Association IV.
This report provides a snapshot of climate trends, variability, observed high-impact weather and climate events, and associated risks and impacts in key sensitive sectors for the period January–December 2020. It is the result of a collaboration among countries, presenting information from various independent sources to assess weather, hydrology and climate conditions in the region. It includes transboundary analyses, including of the drought in the South American Pantanal and of the intense hurricane season in Central America and the Caribbean and associated impacts. In addition, the report identifies areas for improvement in the management of hydrometeorological risks and data, and knowledge gaps.
The findings presented in this report are based on a standard methodology for assessing the physical aspects of the climate system, drawing on data from 1700 meteorological stations in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, and from gridded data for South America. The data were compiled through a joint effort by WMO RCCs. Anomalies and percentages were derived for air temperature and rainfall data relative to the 1981–2010 reference period. National and international institutions provided additional information and data. In some cases, auxiliary information was obtained from local and national news from newspapers, websites and social networks.
High-impact events affecting the region in 2020 were associated with loss of or damage to vital infrastructures of communities and populations. Notable impacts included water and energy-related shortages, displacement, and compromised population safety, health and livelihoods. Towards the end of 2020, intense rainfall events brought landslides, floods and flash floods to rural and urban areas in Central and South America. A weak North American monsoon and colder-than-normal sea-surface temperatures along the eastern Pacific associated with La Niña resulted in drought in Mexico. The devastation that resulted from Hurricanes Eta and Iota in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, and the intense drought and unusual fire season in the Pantanal region of Brazil, the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina, demonstrate the critical need for operational and scientific collaboration, and for continuous data exchange, in order to better characterize those phenomena and their impacts. These impacts were exacerbated by the COVID-19 outbreak.
From the various analyses provided in this report, it is evident that urgent efforts should be pursued to enhance resilience through appropriate prevention and risk-management measures. These include strengthening multi-hazard early warning systems (MHEWSs), through enhanced synergy among various stakeholders at the national and international levels, to save lives and protect property.