Regional patterns of vegetation, temperature, and rainfall trends in the coastal mountain range of Chiapas, Mexico

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Allen Wootton
Paula L. Enríquez
Dario Navarrete-Gutiérrez


Changes in atmospheric CO2, ocean temperature, and regional vegetation conditions in Mesoamerica indicate that significant trends in temperature and rainfall may have occurred in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, Mexico. This is an important region for flora and fauna which could be affected by climate trends. We aimed to determine if and where climate trends had occurred in the Sierra Madre and lower elevation regions between 1990 and 2016 (27 years), if these trends were part of longer term (1960-2016 [57 years]) changes, and how changes in large-scale and regional/local conditions may be influencing these trends. In the Sierra Madre, overall minimum daily temperatures increased, maximum temperatures decreased, and the most significant mean temperature trends were cooler during the 27-yr period. Both the start and end of the wet season trended earlier in the year, and wet season rainfall increased significantly. Trends were not significant during the 57-yr period in the Sierra Madre; however, in the adjacent Pacific coast region, significant warmer temperature trends continued during this period. Within regions, there was large variation in temperature and rainfall changes and some local trends were opposite to the regional averages. Large-scale processes of warming sea surface temperatures in the east coast of Mexico, a change from the positive to negative phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and increases in atmospheric CO2 may be influencing these trends. At the regional scale, increases in dense vegetation and evapotranspiration since 1990 may have created characteristics favoring a positive feedback of higher ocean-based moisture and vegetation-based precipitation cycling.


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