Mar 152022

The answer appears to be a resounding “No!” This article in the Guardian explains why:

And what’s true for Cancún is likely to be true for almost all the beaches in Quintana Roo along Mexico’s Caribbean coast.

Cancún by Arthur Gonoretzky (Flickr)

Cancún by Arthur Gonoretzky (Flickr)

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Female Mexican diplomat to head U.N. climate framework

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May 052016

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has started the process of consultation with the Conference of Parties through its Bureau, and announced his intention to appoint Patricia Espinosa Cantellano of Mexico as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).


Espinosa. Credit: UN Photo: Devra Berkowitz

Ms. Espinosa Cantellano has more than 30 years of experience at highest levels in international relations, specializing in climate change, global governance, sustainable development and protection of human rights.

Since 2012, she has been serving as Ambassador of Mexico to Germany, a position she also held from 2001 to 2002. She previously served as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico from 2006 to 2012.

[Text of UN press release, 3 May 2016]

Apr 142016

Mexico is the world’s ninth largest coffee producer and second largest producer of organic coffee. However, coffee production in Mexico in recent years has been affected by adverse weather conditions (untimely rainfall, frosts, excess humidity) which have been ideal for the expansion of coffee rust disease (roya del café) in many production areas. The 2015/16 coffee production forecast is for 3.3 million 60/kg bags (sacks), the same as the 2014-15 total production, and much lower than historical production outputs of around 5 million bags.

About 35% of Mexico’s coffee production area is located at elevations of 900 meters or higher above sea level; another 43.5% grows between 600 and 900 meters. Coffee grown at the higher elevations is generally higher quality than that grown at lower elevations.

Mexico's exports: coffee

Coffee, one of Mexico’s most important agricultural exports

Mexico has about 500,000 coffee farmers, looking after 600,000 hectares of coffee trees in twelve states. Plantations in the states of Chiapas, Veracruz, Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Puebla account for about 93% of total production. Almost all coffee-growing areas have been affected by outbreaks of coffee rust. The most affected states are Veracruz, with about 70% of the area affected, and Chiapas with about 60% of the area affected. About 40% of the coffee planted area nationwide has been affected somewhat by coffee rust.

Coffee rust is a fungal disease that can cause plant defoliation. In moderate cases, leaf defoliation reduces plants’ ability to produce fruit (the seeds of which are the actual coffee bean). In serious cases, the trees will die. The rust has spread northward from Central America, and reached Chiapas 4-5 years ago.

The Agriculture Secretariat (SAGARPA) has responded by installing about 35 nurseries in states most affected, growing coffee plant varieties resistant to rust. But these trees will need about 4 years to come into production so government officials do not expect coffee production to rebound until 2019. Sagarpa’s objective is to renew at least 250,000 hectares before the end of this administration’s term in 2018.

The SAGARPA program, aiming to increase coffee production and productivity, includes US$83 per producer as incentive, technical assistance packages of up to $140 dollars per hectare, and 500 coffee plants to renovate coffee plantations, as 80% of plants are old and less productive and often rust-prone.

However, coffee organizations complain that resources are not reaching the affected areas fast enough and that program implementation has been too localized instead of having a nation-wide strategy.

Some state governments and international companies are offering support for various types of price-enhancing certifications such as organic, Fair Trade etc. Some indigenous communities are planting their coffee trees among other trees like lime and avocado to diversify production and provide shade that helps coffee quality and enhances eligibility for value-added certifications like Rainforest Alliance and Shade Grown.

As production techniques continue to evolve, some producers have increased plant density from 2600 plants per hectare to 5000 plants per hectare.

Recent figures suggest that about 96% of Mexico’s coffee is of the Arabica variety. The remaining 3-4% is the Robusta variety, used in the production of instant coffee. Mexico is importing large quantities of Robusta variety coffee beans as the large Nestle plant in the city of Toluca has been increasing its output of instant (soluble) coffee. However, Nestle has also increased the use of Arabica coffee in its products. SAGARPA is now supporting the planting of Robusta coffee to decrease coffee bean imports and to support Mexico’s goal of becoming a major producer of soluble coffee.

Mexico is also producing excellent organic coffee, a trend which is increasing among producers. However,  coffee rust has hit areas of organic coffee more than conventional plantings. According to SAGARPA, about 7 to 8% of growers are cultivating organic coffee, mainly for export.

About 40% of Mexican coffee production is marketed for local consumption, according to AMECAFE, and the remaining 60% is for export. The USA continues to be the main international market for Mexican green coffee beans.

Domestic consumption

Coffee consumption in Mexico has been increasing, with estimates of up to 2.6 million 60 kg. bags total usage this year, and consumption (of roasted and soluble coffee) at between 1.3 and 1.5 kg/person.

The importation of coffee is expected to rise in 2016, in order to meet domestic demand.

Increased consumption has been driven by government and retail advertising and by the growing number of specialty coffee shops in Mexico. (Starbucks alone has opened 500 coffee shops in Mexico). Soluble coffee still makes up about 68% of domestic consumption but ground coffee consumption is increasing among the middle class, whilst high-income consumers often want fashionable value-added imported coffee.

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Mexico’s vulnerability and readiness to adapt to climate change and other global challenges

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Mar 262015

The ND-GAIN Index, a project of the University of Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN), aims to help businesses and the public sector better prioritize investments for a more efficient response to the immediate global challenges ahead.

The ND-Gain Index summarizes two key characteristics of a country:

  • its vulnerability to climate change and other global challenges, and
  • its readiness to improve resilience.

Both characteristics are compound indices, based on numerous indicators, scored on a scale of 0 to 1. For vulnerability, lower scores are better; for readiness, higher scores are better.

Vulnerability measures a country’s exposure, sensitivity and ability to adapt to the negative impact of climate change. ND-GAIN measures the overall vulnerability by considering vulnerability in six life-supporting sectors – food, water, health, ecosystem service, human habitat and infrastructure.

Three vulnerability components are considered (each has several indicators):

  • Exposure: The degree to which a system is exposed to significant climate change from a biophysical perspective. It is a component of vulnerability independent of socio-economic context. Exposure indicators are projected impacts for the coming decades.
  • Sensitivity: The extent to which a country is dependent upon a sector negatively affected by climate hazard, or the proportion of the population particularly susceptible to a climate change hazard. A country’s sensitivity can vary over time.
  • Adaptive Capacity: The availability of social resources for sector-specific adaptation. In some cases, these capacities reflect sustainable adaptation solutions. In other cases, they reflect capacities to put newer, more sustainable adaptations into place. Adaptive capacity also varies over time.

Readiness targets those portions of the economy, governance and society that affect the speed and efficiency of absorption and implementation of Adaptation projects.

Three Readiness components are taken into account:

  • Economic Readiness: Economic readiness captures the ability of a country’s business environment to accept investment that could be applied to adaptation that reduces vulnerability (reduces sensitivity and improves adaptive capacity).
  • Governance Readiness: Governance readiness captures the institutional factors that enhance application of investment for adaptation.
  • Social Readiness: Social readiness captures the factors such as social inequality, ICT infrastructure, education and innovation, that enhance the mobility of investment and promote adaptation actions.
ND-Gain Index: Trends in Mexico's vulnearablity and readiness

ND-Gain Index: Trends in Mexico’s vulnerablity and readiness

In the case of Mexico (see image), from 1995 to 2013, vulnerability has steadily improved, from a high of 0.362 in 1996 to 0.315 in 2013. Mexico’s vulnerability has decreased for each of the six sectors except infrastructure.

Over the same period of time, readiness in Mexico has also improved, from a low of 0.387 in 1995 to a high of 0.464 in 2013.

The trends of lower vulnerability scores and higher readiness score for Mexico mean that while adaptation challenges still exist, Mexico is well positioned to adapt to future challenges. On the overall ND-Gain Index, Mexico is the 47th least vulnerable country and the 91st most ready country, for an overall rank of #74, of the 190+ countries in the rankings.

The crater lake of Santa María del Oro yields evidence for climate change

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Feb 142013

A magnificent crater lake nestles in a centuries-old volcanic crater a short distance east of the town of Santa María del Oro in Nayarit.

The connecting road from Highway 15 first passes through the former mining town of Santa María del Oro and then rises slightly to offer a splendid view of the beautiful slate-blue lake (known locally as “La Laguna”), set in a ring of verdant hills. In recent years, the lake, a good example of a geomorphosite, has become important for tourism with accommodations ranging from RV spaces to a boutique hotel. It takes about an hour and a half to stroll round the track that encircles the crater lake. Other attractions include visiting an abandoned gold mine (which offers a glimpse into the area’s past), birding, mountain biking, swimming or hiring a rowboat or kayak to venture out onto the lake.

Crater Lake, Santa María del Oro. Credit: Tony Burton

Crater Lake, Santa María del Oro. Credit: Tony Burton

This usually quiet lake has proved to be a valuable source of information for geologists and climatologists investigating the history of climate change in this region of Mexico.

The researchers who published their findings in 2010 in the Bulletin of the Mexican Geological Society extracted a sediment core from the deepest part of the lake. The relatively small area of the drainage basin surrounding the lake and the relatively steep slopes of surrounding hills mean that the sediments entering the lake are rarely disturbed after they are deposited. Wind and wave action are limited. The depth of the lake (maximum 65.5 meters) also helps to ensure that sediments remain undisturbed for centuries. This gives perfect conditions for a reliable sediment core.

Santa María del Oro. Credit: Google Earth

Santa María del Oro. Credit: Google Earth

The team analyzed the titanium, calcium and magnetism levels of successive thin slices of the core. By comparing the core with historic records and previous tree ring analyses from the same general area, they were able to accurately date each slice. The titanium levels in each slice allowed the researchers to quantify how much runoff occurred in that year, a proxy indicator of precipitation.

The team identified 21 significant drought events over a period of 700 years. The six most marked droughts occurred in 1365–1384, 1526, 1655-1670, 1818, 1900 and 1930-2000. They found periodicities of 25, 39, 50, 70 and 117 years for drought events, meaning that droughts occurred at fairly regular intervals of about 20-25 years.

The researchers then looked at the possible correlation between periods of drought and two distinct climatological factors: a shift to the south in the position of the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) in summer and the occurrence of El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events. When the ITCZ does not extend as far north as usual during Mexico’s summer rainy season, states such as Nayarit and Jalisco receive less than their normal amount of rainfall. During ENSO events, rainfall is also diminished in central and western Mexico.

Of the 21 droughts identified and studied, 7 proved to be statistically linked to ENSO events, 10 to ITCZ movements, and the remaining 4 events were closely linked to a combination of both.

As the study concludes, titanium analysis of sediments may allow for a more refined record of climate change in the period prior to reliable historic or instrumental records which might improve the understanding of how and why climate change occurred in past

Santa María del Oro is also worth visiting because it is only a short distance away from the edge of the canyon of the River Santiago and the El Cajón hydro-electric power project, one of three major HEP projects located along that river.

Source article:

Susana Sosa-Nájera, Socorro Lozano-Garcí, Priyadarsi D. Roy and Margarita Caballero. Registro de sequías históricas en el occidente de México con base en el análisis elemntal de sedimentos lacustres: El caso del lago de Santa María del Oro. Boletín de la Sociedad Geológica Mexicana, Vol 62, #3, 2010, p 437-451.

Santa María del Oro and surrounding areas are described in chapter 24 of the recently published 4th (Kindle/Kobo) edition of my Western Mexico: A Traveler’s Treasury (Sombrero Books, 2013).

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The changing climate of Mexico’s urban areas

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Dec 312011

As large urban areas grow in size, they change their local climate in various ways. The best known effect is that called the urban heat island: the air above cities is significantly warmer than the surrounding air in suburban and rural areas. The transfer of heat energy from people, homes, vehicles and factories warms the air immediately above the city. The irregular built-up surfaces of a city absorb more energy than nearby vegetated areas, also helping to raise the city’s temperature. The difference in temperature is most noticeable just before sunrise.

Wind speeds in cities tend to be lower than in their rural outskirts. Precipitation tends to be slightly higher, as a result of the additional heat energy, which causes mid-afternoon instability, and because city air has higher concentrations of particulates (dust, smog, contaminants) from vehicles and factories.

Urban heat island (°C) in Puebla, Mexico

Urban heat island (°C) in Puebla, Mexico, 2200 h, 11 November 1970 (Source: G.M. Gäb, 1976)

Mexican cities are no exception. The urban heat island differential has risen by an average of 0.44ºC per decade for large cities (population over one million), and by 0.37ºC per decade for mid-sized cities (population between 150,000 and 1,000,000). These rates are clearly greater than the background effect of global warming, variously estimated at between 0.07 and 0.20ºC a decade.

There is no doubt that accelerated urbanization has warmed and is continuing to warm urban air, affecting the comfort levels of millions of people. The cities where urban temperatures have risen most rapidly are Torreón, which warmed at a rate of 1.2ºC per decade from 1952–1998, and Guadalajara, where temperatures rose by 0.74ºC a decade from 1920–1997. [Jauregui, E. 2005. Impact of Increasing Urbanization on the Thermal Climate of Large Mexican Cities]

The case of Mexico City shows an additional complication. At the end of the 19th century, comparing minimum temperatures, Mexico City (population then 400,000) was about 1.5ºC warmer than surrounding areas. This difference had risen dramatically to about 9ºC (16ºF) by the 1980s. Urbanization has certainly played a part, and its effects have perhaps been exacerbated by the city’s unfortunate position in a basin, which traps air, heat and contamination. However, climate modeling suggests that the loss of lakes in the Valley of Mexico, including the draining of most of Lake Texcoco, has played at least as large a part in Mexico City’s increased temperatures as the expansion of its urban area. [Jazcilevich, A. et al. 2000. Simulated Urban Climate Response to Historical Land Use Modification in the Basin of Mexico. Climatic Change 44]

In addition, the incidence of intense rain showers (those where more than 20 mm (0.8 in) falls per hour) in Mexico City has also risen steadily, from four a decade in the 1940s to twenty a decade in 1980s. There is, however, no convincing evidence that wet season rainfall totals have increased, despite the combination of increased temperatures and instability, and the higher number of particulates in the air from dust, vehicle exhausts and factories. Away from the edge of the city, precipitation appears to have declined. [Jauregui, E. 2004. Impact of land-use changes on the climate of the Mexico City Region. Mexico City: Boletín del Instituto de Geografía.]

In summary, the expansion of Mexico City appears to have led to warmer, drier conditions in the Valley of Mexico.

Urban areas also have distinctive effects on hydrology. The roads and buildings of cities form impermeable surfaces which reduce infiltration almost to zero and greatly increase surface runoff. The lag time between a rainstorm and peak discharge in stream channels is much less in urban areas than in their rural surroundings. This makes the likelihood of flooding much greater in urban areas. In most cities, surface runoff is channeled rapidly into gutters and drains (a form of high speed throughflow) in an effort to reduce flood risk.

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Aug 222011

The proposed implementation of a United Nations-supported carbon storage program (REDD) in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas is provoking plenty of controversy. The debate is hotting up because a follow-up program called REDD+ is due to start in 2012. A good summary of the situation is provided by REDD rag to indigenous forest dwellers.

What is REDD?

  • REDD stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation
  • It is a carbon storage program, started in 2008 by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) and the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP).
  • It aims to conserve biodiversity and boost carbon storage by preventing deforestation and by replanting forests
  • It is focused on developing countries, and provides them wih funds and technical support

At first glance, it would seem like a good fit for Chiapas, one of Mexico’s poorest states, where a high proportion of the population are reliant on subsistence farming. The Chiapas state government backs REDD, considering it as one way of helping mitigate the likely consequences of climate change in the state. Chiapas’ total emissions of carbon dioxide amount to 32 million metric tons/year, about 4.5% of the national figure. The Chiapas contribution comes mainly from deforestation and farming.

NGOs working in Chiapas warn that REDD poses a serious threat to indigenous people. About 20% of the 4.8 million people living in Chiapas belong to one or other of the state’s numerous indigenous groups. Land tenure in many parts of Chiapas is hotly disputed; this was one of the reasons for the EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation) uprising in 1994.

Protests in support of indigenous rights, Cancún climate summit

Protests in support of indigenous rights, Cancún climate summit, 2010

Miguel García, a spokesperson for an NGO founded in 1991 which supports indigenous groups and protects the environment, has been quoted as saying that REDD “will alter indigenous culture, will commodify it, giving commercial value to common assets like oxygen, water and biodiversity.” He is especially concerned that “resentment of and confrontation with the Zapatista grassroots supporters are being accentuated.”

As with so many geographic issues, there is no easy “right answer” here. The rights of indigenous groups need to be respected and their views taken into account, before any decision is made about the value of their forest home to global efforts to mitigate climate change.

This is one controversy we plan to follow as it plays out in coming months.

Want to read more?

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Mexico introduces a carbon tracking system to monitor its greenhouse gas emissions

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Apr 212011

A recent Scientific American article (15 March 2011) examines Mexico’s newly introduced system to track greenhouse gas emissions. The article, by Saqib Rahim, originally appeared in ClimateWire.

Systems to monitor emissions are essential if countries are to know whether or not they are meeting emissions targets. Mexico’s 2012 goal is to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 6% of their 2000 value. Mexico’s longer-term goal is a decrease of 50% by 2050. Achieving these goals will require massive investments in a range of industries and Mexico hopes that a transparent greenhouse gas accounting system will play an important role in attracting foreign funds.

The system was developed in partnership with Abt Associates, a US consultancy that has contracts with US AID and the US Environmental Protection Agency. Mexican officials insisted that the system must be Internet-based, easy to use, and capable of providing updated reports every few months. Their existing system is spreadsheet-based, but relies on databases that are not 100% compatible in terms of the information and measurements recorded.

The new system allows officials to categorize emissions data by economic sector and geographic region, down to the level of an individual firm or a single municipality. Indonesia has already expressed its interest in the system, and it is hoped that other countries will now follow Mexico’s lead and adopt a similar strategy for keeping track of their own greenhouse gas emissions.

Review of “Climate and Society in Colonial Mexico: A Study in Vulnerability” (Georgina Endfield)

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Apr 052011

Environmental historian Georgina Endfield has analyzed a wide variety of colonial archives to explore the complex relationships between climate and social and economic systems. Her book—Climate and Society in Colonial Mexico: A Study in Vulnerability—considers case studies in three distinct zones of Mexico:

  • the arid Conchos Basin of Chihuahua
  • the fertile Oaxaca Valley
  • the agricultural area centered on Guanajuato in the Bajío region

Endfield - Cover of Climate and Society in Colonial MexicoEndfield systematically unravels the connections between climatic vulnerability and the ways in which societies sought to mitigate the impacts of climate-related disasters, while striving for greater resilience against similar events in the future. Her book considers a range of disasters and impacts, from floods, droughts and storms to epidemics, food shortages, riots and rebellions.

The author captures her readers immediately as she describes how “28 June 1692 was a very wet day in Celaya, Guanajuato. Unusually heavy rains began falling in the afternoon and continued all through the evening.” This was the prelude to “terrible panic among all the inhabitants of the city”, and “could not have come at a worse time”, since two years of drought and crop blights had led to famines and epidemics.

Throughout the book’s seven chapters, Endfield writes in a direct manner. She avoids lengthy quotes in favor of presenting a carefully constructed argument, as she leads the reader in an exploration of the content and merits of the colonial sources. In the final chapter, she examines the broader context, relating climatic events in Mexico to events in Europe, and considering the possible role of ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) events.

An extended table towards the end of the book provides a time line for the known environmental hazard events striking the three areas between 1690 and 1820. It shows, for example, that droughts were reported in Chihuahua in no fewer than 40 years of that 130-year time span.

Referencing throughout the book is meticulous, and repeated use is made easier by the provision of a detailed index.

I do have one tiny quibble. The use of accents in this book is quite inconsistent. Even for place names, some accents are missing, while others have migrated to the wrong letter. For example, Léon is often used for León.

This is a fascinating read. Apart from the many invaluable examples of climatic hazards and their demographic, social, economic and political impacts, Endfield has been hugely successful in demonstrating the tremendous value of Mexico’s rich colonial archives, archives which no doubt still hold many more secrets, which they will only give up in response to similarly painstaking research.

Studies of climate change are set to take center-stage in coming decades, and this historical account reminds us all that climate hazards are far from a rare or a novel occurrence.

In short, this is a highly recommendable book.

Details (click for

Climate and Society in Colonial Mexico: A Study in Vulnerability (Blackwell, 2008) by Georgina H. Endfield; 235 pages.

Mexico’s diverse climates and climatic vulnerability are the subject of chapter 4 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico. Water availability, rivers, aquifers, water issues and hazards are analyzed in chapters 6 and 7. Buy your copy today!

Feb 142011

The January 2011 issue of Scientific American contains “Casualties of Climate Change” which takes an in-depth look at three case studies (Mozambique, Mekong Delta and Mexico) where (according to the authors) climate-forced migrations will be inevitable in the next 70 years.

The article combines research which formed part of the European Commission’s Environmental Change and Forced Migration Scenarios project (EACH-FOR), a global study on environmentally induced migration, with maps produced by the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia’s Earth Institute.

In the case of Mexico, the case study suggests that the declining rainfalls and decreasing water availability resulting from climate change will lead to more frequent and more prolonged droughts, especially in central and western Mexico, alongside an increase in the frequency and severity of tropical storms and hurricanes. The authors cite evidence from interviews in the state of Tlaxcala that some climate-induced migration is already under way, as rainfall totals and timing have become less predictable.

Of course, predicting what the climate in Mexico (and elsewhere) will be like in 2080 is a decidedly risky undertaking. At best, such predictions are a statistical guesstimate. Even so, it is still useful to consider alternative climate change scenarios, together with their likely impacts on  environmental hazards and future movements of people. Looking at the alternatives may allow the development of strategies and policies which can reduce or minimize the adverse  social, human, economic and environmental impacts.

Four colorful maps accompany the Mexico case study:

  • population density
  • rain-fed agricultural land
  • incidence of drought
  • predicted change in runoff.

The downside: In some instances, data given in the text appears to conflict with the data shown on these maps. Furthermore, no definition for “drought” is offered in either the text or the relevant map. The drought map’s categories are stated to be “percent of growing season that experienced drought, 1988-2007) but some methodological clarification of the underlying assumptions made and how these figures were calculated would have greatly enhanced the map’s value.

Previous posts about climate change in Mexico:

Mexico’s environmental trends and issues are examined in chapter 30 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico. Ask your library to buy a copy of this handy reference guide to all aspects of Mexico’s geography today! Better yet, purchase your own copy…

Expected impact on Mexico of global climate change

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Dec 222010

The overall temperature of the earth is increasing faster now than it has for many millennia. According to a 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) paper, the global surface temperature is expected to increase by 1.1 to 6.4 degrees C (2.0 to 11.5 degrees F) during the 21st century. According to the models, global warming will be most pronounced in the Arctic resulting in the melting of glaciers, permafrost and sea ice. Warming is expected to be less pronounced in Antarctic areas.

Precipitation change in Mexico, 1950-2000 and 2021-2040

Precipitation change in Mexico, from 1950-2000 to 2021-2040. Image/data: Gabriel Vecchi, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Given the high average altitude of Mexico, the temperature changes and raising sea level should have less impact on Mexico than most other countries. Still, low laying areas of Mexico will be affected significantly.

Global warming will have profound impacts on the world’s climate. The most severe impacts on Mexico, and perhaps the whole Earth, could very well result more from climate change than global warming per se. In general, the affects will involve significant changes in average annual amounts of precipitation as well as huge year to year variability.

Mexico will experience significantly more severe droughts, floods, and storms including hurricanes. This trend has already started. In the 25 years between 1960 and 1985, Mexico experienced one category five hurricane – Beulah in 1967. In the 25 years since 1985, four category five hurricanes hit Mexico: Gilbert – 1988, Mitch – 1998, Wilma – 2005, and Dean – 2007. Fortunately, no category five hurricanes struck Mexico in 2009 or 2010. Are we due in 2011?

In general, precipitation in Mexico is expected to decline significantly in the next several decades. As you can see on the map, Western Mexico and the Yucatan will get 5% to 8% less rain. This is particularly important to Northwestern Mexico which is the most arid part of the country. Unfortunately, with the expected large increase in year to year variability, this part of Mexico is expected to suffer many very serious droughts. Obviously, less rainfall and greater variability will have gigantic impacts on Mexican agriculture, especially in the drier western areas.

The 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancún, Mexico

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Dec 012010

The 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference is now underway in Cancún, Mexico. It began 29 November and closes 10 December 2010. One of the objectives that Mexico hopes to achieve is the setting up of a Global Green Fund to help nations adversely affected by climate change to finance projects of mitigation and adaptation.

IPCC CancunAt the 2009 round of talks, in Copenhagen, Denmark, the countries present failed to agree any significant actions, choosing instead to sign a non-binding agreement and “agree to disagree”.

Prior to the Cancún meeting, four preparatory rounds of negotiations have already been held in 2010. The first three rounds were in Bonn, Germany:  April 9-11;  June 1 – 11; and August 2 – 6. After the August meeting, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon publicly doubted that member states would reach any new agreement on global warming at the Cancún Conference.

The fourth preparatory round of talks, held in Tianjin, China, also made minimal progress as the USA and China could not agree on key issues. However, following that meeting, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said, “This week has got us closer to a structured set of decisions that can be agreed in Cancún … This is the greatest societal and economic transformation that the world has ever seen.” Other commentators have also spoken of a positive spirit of negotiation, which will hopefully pave the way for an agreement to be reached in Cancún.

We will have to wait until the conclusion of the Cancún Conference before assessing its success or lack thereof, but let us hope that the delegates can this year come to some meaningful, and binding decisions.

Previous posts about global warming:

Mexico’s environmental trends and issues are examined in chapter 30 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico. Ask your library to buy a copy of this handy reference guide to all aspects of Mexico’s geography today! Better yet, purchase your own copy…

Jul 092010

The 4th Assessment Report (2007) of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) involved the contributions of 2,500 scientists from 130 countries. The number of Mexican scientists participating was higher than the number from many richer countries including Spain and France. Sixteen Mexican scientists were involved in writing the 4th IPCC report. Ten of the sixteen hold positions at UNAM (the National University in Mexico City), making UNAM one of the institutions in the world with the highest rate of participation.

The 16 Mexican contributors were:
IPCC 4th Report

A further 8 Mexican scientists helped edit the documents:

Many of the same scientists have now been confirmed as members of the international team developing the 5th Assessment Report of the IPCC. In addition, the following newcomers have also been appointed:

  • Salvador Lluch-Cota, Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste, S.C. (Lead author, Ocean systems)
  • Fernando Aragon, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (Urban areas)
  • Ursula Oswald-Spring, Centro Regional de Investigaciones Multidiscipinarias, UNAM    (Human security)
  • Roberto A. Sanchez Rodriguez, University of California, Riverside  (Adaptation planning and implementation)
  • Edgar Ortiz (Integrated Risk and Uncertainty Assessment of Climate Change Response Policies)
  • Martha Micheline Cariño Olvera (Social, Economic and Ethical Concepts and Methods)
  • Mauricio de María Campos (Sustainable development and equity)
  • Angel de la Vega     (Energy systems)
  • Xochitl Cruz-Nuñez (Transport)
  • Omar Masera (Agriculture, Forestry and other land uses)
  • Gian Carlo Delgado (Human Settlements, Infrastructure and Spatial Planning)
  • Alba Eritrea Gámez Vázquez (Regional Development and Cooperation)
  • Manuel Angeles (National and Sub-National Policies and Institutions)
  • Tomás Hernández-Tejeda, National Institute of Research in Forestry, Agriculture and Livestock (INIFAP)/SAGARPA (Synthesis Report)

Mexico’s diverse climates are the subject of chapter 4 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico. Water availability, rivers, aquifers, water issues and hazards are analyzed in chapters 6 and 7. Buy your copy today!