, Volume 99, Issue 1-2, pp 247-259
Date: 12 Sep 2009

Warming of an elevated layer over the Caribbean

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Air temperatures in the trade wind inversion (~850 hPa) over the Caribbean have been rising much faster than sea temperatures. This is associated with an accelerated Hadley circulation, with sinking motions over the Caribbean corresponding with increasing rising motion over the Amazon. The sinking motions induce a faster rate of warming and drying in the trade wind inversion than at other levels. Much of the trend in Caribbean climate is attributable to physical mechanisms; changes in atmospheric composition play a secondary role. Smoke and dust plumes from Africa, drifting westward across the Atlantic, enhance the greenhouse effect in an elevated (1–3 km) layer. A stabilized lower atmosphere across the Caribbean has contributed to warming and drying trends over the twentieth century which are projected to continue. The atmosphere is warming faster than the ocean, causing a decline in sensible heat fluxes that fuel tropical cyclones.