Climate variability at multiple spatial and temporal scales in the Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico

TitleClimate variability at multiple spatial and temporal scales in the Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsWaide, RB, Comarazamy, DE, González, JE, Hall, CAS, Lugo, AE, Luvall, JC, Murphy, SF, Ortiz-Zayas, J, Ramírez-Beltrán, ND, Scatena, FN
EditorSilver, WL
Book TitleEcological Gradient Analyses in a Tropical Landscape
Series TitleEcological Bulletins
Accession NumberLUQ.1102

Spacial and temporal variability in the climate of the Luquillo Mountains of eastern Puerto Rico is influenced by large-scale movements of air masses, extreme events, and regional and global climate change. Because of the long history of the ecosystem research in the Luquillo Mountains, their status as a U.S. Dept of Agriculture (USDA) Experimental Forest, and their role as a source of drinking water for many communities, climate of the Luquillo Moutaines has been a topic of interest for many different public and private entities. Long-term and spatially-diverse records of climate and simulation models suggest that climate is changing in the Luquillo Mountains. Precipitation is decreasing slowly in the lowlands of Puerto Rico and global models suggest that this trend will continue. Annual maximum and minimum temperatures are increasing slowly, and may be affected by accelerating urbanization around the Luquillo Mountains. Cyclonic storms are a major influence on community composition and ecosystem processes, and some studies have suggested trends in intensity and frequency of these storms. Cumulative effects of these changes may include a more pronounced dry season, changes in spatial distribution of species, shifts in the distribution of soil organic carbon, decreases in primary productivity, and increases in extreme rainfall events. Because predictions of the possible effects of climate change bear high levels of uncertainty, future research needs to focus on understanding the direction and magnitude of ecosystem responses to change. A coordinated effort to expand collection of meteorological data and to improve the quality of such data is a fundamental necessity if we are to understand the effect of future climate change on the Luquillo Mountains.