Indicators of climate change in the Pacific Islands region

The 2012 Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (PIRCA) identified several important indicators of climate change in the region, such as:

  • Average surface air temperatures are rising, with the largest increases found at high altitudes in Hawai‘i.
  • Over the past century, rainfall has decreased across much of the region. There has been a slight increase in rainfall in the westernmost Micronesian islands.
  • In Hawai‘i, groundwater discharge to streams has significantly decreased over the past 100 years. This trend indicates a decrease in groundwater storage.
  • Mean sea levels are rising, particularly in the Western Pacific.
  • Across the region, the frequency and intensity of climatic extremes are changing. Drought has been more frequent and prolonged, and there have been fewer tropical cyclones.
  • Pacific Island habitats and species distributions have changed. For example,
    increasing temperatures are facilitating the upward migration of mosquito-borne
    diseases that cause mortality in Hawaiian native forest birds.
  • Ocean heat content is rising and ocean chemistry is changing.

Indicators of climate change in the Pacific Islands region. (Courtesy of Susan Yamamoto, Geovision. Adapted from “Ten Indicators of a Warming World,” in NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate 2009 [report].)



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