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Variability of diurnal temperature range over Pacific Island countries, a case study of Fiji

Abstract

Diurnal temperature range (DTR) is an important index in climate change studies in addition to its influence upon environment and thermal comfort. Understanding variability in DTR at regional scales is, thus, important. In Fiji and other Pacific Island countries, DTR information is important in forecasting thermal comfort. This work is based on Fiji using gauge-based gridded mean monthly DTR data from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU). Annual and monthly DTR for the second half of the twentieth century to the present day are analyzed to establish temporal trends and spatial patterns. A combination of parametric and non-parametric tests was applied to investigate trend, correlation, simple linear regression, and interannual variability in the datasets. Findings show that DTR increases with an increase in latitude over Fiji. The mean monthly DTR between 6.58 and 7.37 °C in June and January coincide with winter and summer, respectively. Cumulative annual mean (CAM) of T, Tmx, and DTR showed increasing trends during the study period while the CAM of Tmn depicted a decreasing trend. Results suggest that DTR has a positive significant (insignificant) correlation with Tmx (T), but shows an opposing significant relationship with Tmn at 5% significance level. Each of DTR, Tmx, Tmn, and T experienced a general increase in values across the timeframe provided by the data. Records show an overall increase of 0.05 °C/decade in DTR. However, since the early 1990s, DTR has been characterized by a downward trend. Nonetheless, the overall trend of increasing DTR is explained by a greater increase in maximum temperatures over minimum temperatures. The observed rate of increase in DTR in warm months exceeds that in cold months. The findings form a baseline for further studies investigating the factors influencing DTR variability, and how the variability is affecting human thermal comfort.

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Data Source: Hastings and Dunbar (1999)

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Acknowledgements

The authors are thankful to The University of East Anglia (UEA) Climatic Research Unit (CRU) for providing the data used in this study. A lot of appreciation goes to The University of the South Pacific for providing a research-enabling environment.

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Correspondence to Victor Ongoma.

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Ongoma, V., Rahman, M.A., Ayugi, B. et al. Variability of diurnal temperature range over Pacific Island countries, a case study of Fiji. Meteorol Atmos Phys 133, 85–95 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00703-020-00743-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00703-020-00743-4