Tropical Cyclone Impacts on Coastal Regions: the Case of the Yucatán and the Baja California Peninsulas, Mexico
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Tropical cyclones (TCs) are large-scale natural disturbances that generate strong winds and heavy rainfall, impacting coastal and inland environments. TCs also influence biogeochemical and hydrological cycles controlling aquatic primary productivity in tropical and subtropical coastal ecosystems. We assessed TC landfall activity and identified sites along the Mexican east and west coasts with high frequency in the period 1970–2010 and evaluated TCs with significant precipitation. Changes in chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) concentrations before and after storm impacts were estimated using remotely sensed ocean color. There were 1,065 named TCs with a wide diversity in tracks. Three states with the highest number of landfalls were identified: Baja California Sur and Sinaloa on the west coast and Quintana Roo on the east coast. While a relative increase in Chl-a values following TC landfalls in the Baja California and Yucatán Peninsula regions appeared to be strongly linked to TC strength, the intensity of precipitation, the spatial scales of the two peninsulas, and the relative movement of TCs appeared to have contributed to Chl-a variability. Satellite estimates of Chl-a in the nearshore coastal waters following TC passage were likely enhanced by coastal morphology and water discharge along with constituents such as suspended particulate, colored dissolved organic matter and nutrients from rivers, tributaries, and groundwater.
KeywordsTropical cyclones Chlorophyll-a Baja California Peninsula Yucatán Peninsula Mexico
This work was supported by funding from the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI) CRN II #2048 and #2050, which is provided by the United States National Science Foundation (Grant GEO-0452325). Additional support, for LMF, was provided by the National Council on Science and Technology in Mexico (CONACYT, Grant 23448). EJD would like to acknowledge partial support from NASA’s Applied Sciences Program grant NNA07CN12A. VHRM participation was partially funded by the National Science Foundation through the Florida Coastal Everglades (FCE) Long-Term Ecological Research program under Grant No. DBI-0620409 and the NASA-JPL project (LSU Subcontract# 1452878) “Vulnerability Assessment of Mangrove Forest Regions of the Americas.” The SMN, historical archive of rainfall records was provided by Alejandro González Serratos and Adolfo Portocarrero. The GOES imagery was provided by the Space Science and Engineering Center University of Wisconsin-Madison. The SeaWiFS data was provided by NASA’s Ocean Color group and the TRMM datasets by NASA’s Goddard Earth Sciences (GES) Data and Information Services Center (DISC). This work was greatly improved by comments from Victor Camacho-Ibar and three anonymous reviewers.
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