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Is T&T becoming hotter and wetter?

Monday, January 13, 2014
Science and Society

It is generally acknowledged that global warming is occurring. The term “global warming” may be a bit difficult to reconcile with the freezing weather that recently affected North America. But there is a difference between weather, which deals with the short-term atmospheric conditions, and climate which looks at long-term trends which are based on averaged values.



It should be remembered that averaging tends to smooth out short-term variability, so the degree of weather fluctuations over a small period will not be similarly reflected in the long-term data. To clarify the above using a cricketing analogy; a batsman’s average is calculated by dividing the number of runs he has scored to date by the number of innings in which he batted and got out. It is a long-term measure of his quality as a batsman. An average of 50 and above is considered outstanding.


Top-class players also occasionally lose form and hence have periods when their scores are low. But the effect of such short-term variability or reduction in their batting performance does not significantly affect their batting average which represents long term data.



Observational records will indicate that there has been increasing weather variability which includes events like the heavy rainfall that affected St Vincent and St Lucia recently. It has been noted in Trinidad that the rainfall, of late, has been more intense and of a shorter duration than the past. This is partly responsible for the almost routine and widespread flooding across the country. The weather here tends to be geographically variable and this makes prediction and measurement difficult.


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