Regional Environmental Change

pp 1–21

Climate change impacts in Latin America and the Caribbean and their implications for development

Authors

    • Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
  • Sophie Adams
    • Climate Analytics
    • University of New South Wales
  • Torsten Albrecht
    • Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
  • Florent Baarsch
    • Climate Analytics
  • Alice Boit
    • Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
  • Nella Canales Trujillo
    • Overseas Development Institute
  • Matti Cartsburg
    • Agripol - Network for Policy Advice GbR
  • Dim Coumou
    • Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
  • Alexander Eden
    • Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
  • Erick Fernandes
    • Climate Change Policy and Finance DepartmentThe World Bank
  • Fanny Langerwisch
    • Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
  • Rachel Marcus
    • Overseas Development Institute
  • Matthias Mengel
    • Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
  • Daniel Mira-Salama
    • Climate Change Policy and Finance DepartmentThe World Bank
  • Mahé Perette
    • Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
  • Paola Pereznieto
    • Overseas Development Institute
  • Anja Rammig
    • Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
    • TUM School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan, Land Surface-Atmosphere InteractionsTechnische Universität München
  • Julia Reinhardt
    • Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
  • Alexander Robinson
    • Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
    • Universidad Complutense de Madrid
    • Instituto de GeocienciasUCM-CSIC
  • Marcia Rocha
    • Climate Analytics
  • Boris Sakschewski
    • Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
  • Michiel Schaeffer
    • Climate Analytics
  • Carl-Friedrich Schleussner
    • Climate Analytics
  • Olivia Serdeczny
    • Climate Analytics
  • Kirsten Thonicke
    • Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10113-015-0854-6

Cite this article as:
Reyer, C., Adams, S., Albrecht, T. et al. Reg Environ Change (2015). doi:10.1007/s10113-015-0854-6

Abstract

This paper synthesizes what is known about the physical and biophysical impacts of climate change and their consequences for societies and development under different levels of global warming in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Projections show increasing mean temperatures by up to 4.5 °C compared to pre-industrial by the end of this century across LAC. Associated physical impacts include altered precipitation regimes, a strong increase in heat extremes, higher risks of droughts and increasing aridity. Moreover, the mean intensity of tropical cyclones, as well as the frequency of the most intense storms, is projected to increase while sea levels are expected to rise by ~0.2–1.1 mm depending on warming level and region. Tropical glacier volume is found to decrease substantially, with almost complete deglaciation under high warming levels. The much larger glaciers in the southern Andes are less sensitive to warming and shrink on slower timescales. Runoff is projected to be reduced in Central America, the southern Amazon basin and southernmost South America, while river discharge may increase in the western Amazon basin and in the Andes in the wet season. However, in many regions, there is uncertainty in the direction of these changes as a result of uncertain precipitation projections and differences in hydrological models. Climate change will also reduce agricultural yields, livestock and fisheries, although there may be opportunities such as increasing rice yield in several LAC countries or higher fish catch potential in the southernmost South American waters. Species range shifts threaten terrestrial biodiversity, and there is a substantial risk of Amazon rainforest degradation with continuing warming. Coral reefs are at increasing risk of annual bleaching events from 2040 to 2050 onwards irrespective of the climate scenario. These physical and biophysical climate change impacts challenge human livelihoods through, e.g., decreasing income from fisheries, agriculture or tourism. Furthermore, there is evidence that human health, coastal infrastructures and energy systems are also negatively affected. This paper concludes that LAC will be severely affected by climate change, even under lower levels of warming, due to the potential for impacts to occur simultaneously and compound one another.

Keywords

DevelopmentGlobal changePovertyProjectionsScenariosSustainability

Supplementary material

10113_2015_854_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (2.1 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 2153 kb)

Copyright information

© International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank 2015