The Early 19th Century Climate of the Bahamas and a Comparison with 20th Century Averages
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- Chenoweth, M. Climatic Change (1998) 40: 577. doi:10.1023/A:1005371320672
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Two weather records kept at Nassau, Bahamas, from 1811 to 1837, and from 1838 to 1845, respectively, are analyzed and compared to 20th century reference periods. The average annual temperature of the period is 24.2°C (±0.65°C), which is 0.4°C lower than 1961–1990 and 0.1°C lower than 1901–1920, the coolest period in the 20th century. Cold periods occurred from 1812–1819 and 1835–1839. A warmer phase prevailed between these two episodes and another warm episode occurred in 1840–1842. Temperature fell after the volcanic eruptions of Tambora (April, 1815) and Coseguina (January, 1835). The maximum cooling after Tambora is estimated at 1.0°C (±0.56°) and after Coseguina is estimated at 0.4°C (±0.56°). The post-Tambora cooling is in line with previous estimates (Robock, personal communication). The 1810s were a period of extreme drought at Nassau and are unequalled in later years. Rainfall frequency was below contemporary (1812–1837) averages from 1812–1820 and 1836–1837 but was above average from 1821–1835. Moist (dry) periods occurred almost simultaneously with warm (cool) periods. The months of October, November, and April show the greatest (negative) deviations in precipitation frequency. Gale force winds were 85% more frequent than from 1901–1960. Much of this increase took place in the months of September through November and represents an increase in tropical cyclone frequency in the Nassau area above that of 1901–1960. Resultant winds show a tendency towards greater northerly components than in the 20th century, especially during the winter months. The increase in northerly wind components, temperatures below the 20th-century average, and reduction in rainfall frequency in the winter half of the year indicates a synoptic situation in which high pressure was more frequent over the southeast North American continent.