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Climatologist Cédric Van Meerbeeck.
Climatologist Cédric Van Meerbeeck.
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By Kenton X. Chance

PHILLIPSBURG, St. Maarten (CMC) —  A Caribbean climatologist says that while the Caribbean is best known for having wet, dry and hurricane seasons, a little known fact is that the region also has a distinct heat season.

Cédric Van Meerbeeck, climatologist at the Barbados-based Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) says that since about 1995, the Caribbean has had a distinct heat season, which lasts from about May to October and is forecast to be more intense this year that the last two years.

“But the heat season is something that didn’t happen in the past. Yes, people feel more comfortable and sometimes even cold around Christmas time and you know that it gets hotter towards September. But it’s not really common knowledge that there is a six-month period that noticeably warmer than the other part of the year and that is May to October….

“And during that heat season, you find that the levels of heat discomfort and heat stress [increases] so that’s impacting your health, also the health of some animals,” Van Meerbeeck said, adding this has implication for comfort levels as well as major sectors in the region, such as tourism and agriculture.

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He told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) on the side-line of the Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum (CariCOF) that while the heat season peaks in September, the region has its most heat waves between August and October.

“Heat waves might not look as extreme as they are in some desert areas or some part of the United States and other regions. However, they do impact us because mostly that’s also the time of the year when the humidity is high,” Van Meerbeeck explained.

“When humidity is high, your body doesn’t cool as effectively as when the air is quite dry and so you feel more heat stress even though the temperature does not increase immensely,” Van Meerbeeck said, urging people to stay as cool as possible, especially from August onward.

The climatologist said that for the first half of the heat season, the air is still relatively dry, therefore, the temperatures are not necessarily so uncomfortable.

“But it is really that second part of the heat season that we want to warn against. Keep cool; don’t go in the sun in the middle of the day; seek shade, seek ventilation in your homes.

“If you have an AC, make sure you run the AC while you sleep so that your brain and your body can recover better and that you can function normal in the face of the heat,” the climatologist advised.

“Last year, we were quite fortunate that there were not many heat waves. It was not that brutal. A comparable season would have been 2016 when we really had a lot of heat between August and October.”

Van Meerbeeck said the cause of the higher temperature is the rising temperatures of the ocean, which releases heat into the atmosphere during the heat season.

“It doesn’t change the weather much from day to day, but over longer periods of time, it does affect the amount of energy that is in the atmosphere and therefore that is the temperature that you feel,” the climatologist said, adding this is definitely linked to climate change.

“And this is one of the clearest links that we observe in the Caribbean beside sea level rise. The increasing temperature now means that even though we didn’t have a heat season outside of maybe August to October in the past, now you find that heat waves actually occur for a longer period of time every year in the warmer years particularly.

“But now, in the cooler years, you now have heat waves. That didn’t used to be the case up until about 1995. It’s really something recent, where the trend of temperate going up with climate change is really affecting the heat level that we have in the season.”

He said this has implication for agriculture and fisheries, especially the livestock subsector and fish, especially in the northern Caribbean, that are sensitive to the heating of the sea surface.

“But for livestock, it’s important to also provide cooling for them. For us that is important. Maybe ethically that’s one thing but also in terms of our food security, our protein stock really comes from chicken and chicken are amongst the most sensitive animals to excessive heat especially broilers.”

Van Meerbeeck said it is a good practice to keep poultry birds cool “so you can to make sure that your chicken stock does not reduce and does not experience that heat stress which leads to less protein being available at a reasonable cost for us”.

As regard tourism, the climatologist said that heat is not that much of a problem as long as awareness is built with tourists.

“But they should really do their best to keep cool whenever they can, stay hydrated, seek the shade, seek well-ventilated places; if you go in the sun, don’t go in the middle of the day,” Van Meerbeeck said, adding that hotels should also remind tourists to stay cool.

4 replies on “Expert warns of Caribbean heat season”

  1. This climatologist seems to be better than most that we have here in the Caribbean. However he fails to mention why the climate is changing. Maybe because he knows that it is not because of CO2 levels. The CO2 levels are actually dangerously low right now. CO2 is NOT A POLLUTANT. If this scientist tells the truth he will most certainly be discredited and lose his job.

    If you do your own research you will find that the climate is crazy right now primarily because of the wobble of the earth. There are two magnetic Norths and what is usually over Northern Canada is right now over Siberia. (look this up yourself based on information from REAL scientists not the many scientists rewarded for fake science or threatened scientists here in the Caribbean!) This along with SunSpot activity are responsible for 99% of our climate activity.
    I was so fascinated with climate when I was in the university taking classes in Ecology and Climatology. Back then it was called the “Greenhouse Effect”. Since that time the Central Bankers that own the fossil Fuel companies have decided to use the climate to gain more wealth and power. Primarily the Rockefellers and Rothschilds have been using positive and negative reinforcement to promote this agenda. They award high-paying jobs to those that support the agenda and if you question it you are fired from your job and discredited. You will find that all the top scientists that oppose this hoax have all been fired. Even the co-founder of Greenpeace mentioned a few weeks ago that the Climate Change Agenda is the biggest hoax ever perpetrated in World History. Hillary Clinton said that those that deny “Global Warming” should get the Death Penalty! Notice how your taxes have gone up and will continue to go up making us think that higher taxes are going to make the bad weather go away.
    Again, I would like to mention that this scientist did not mention certain truths because his job and funding would be at rist if he did.
    I thank Kenton, in advance for his courage for “publishing” my comments on IWN.

    1. climate emergency says:

      Duke, your spewing a high level of nonesense emissions. go home, drink lots of water and have some sleep.

    2. Or maybe he doesn’t mention the cause because it isn’t the main point of the article?

      I suspect we accept information from different sources. My belief is that the scientific consensus provides the best, most reliable source of data, and from your comments it sounds like you have a distrust of the scientific consensus around climate change. Global conspiracies should need compelling evidence before being believed, and I don’t see any evidence in your post, though you do make some pretty out there claims.

      That said, assuming your post is in good faith, here are some things I took issue with in your post:

      1) The CO2 levels are actually dangerously low right now.

      Not according to any reputable sources I can find with a quick google search. To the contrary according to the NOAA:

      “the last time the atmospheric CO2 amounts were this high was more than 3 million years ago, when temperature was 2°–3°C (3.6°–5.4°F) higher than during the pre-industrial era, and sea level was 15–25 meters (50–80 feet) higher than today.”

      2) The climate is crazy right now primarily because of the wobble of the earth

      This is not the consensus of the scientists whose job it is to figure this out. According to NASA:

      Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals1 show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree*: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities

      3) Look this up yourself based on information from REAL scientists

      And who is defining what makes a “REAL” scientist here? Ignoring data that you don’t like without a good reason is a great way to come to incorrect conclusions.

      4) The Central Bankers that own the fossil fuel companies have decided to use the climate to gain more wealth and power

      Your argument here is hard to follow. You argue that fossil fuel companies are going to get more wealth and power by convincing the world to stop using fossil fuels? This seems ridiculous.

      5) Even the co-founder of Greenpeace mentioned…

      The co-founder of Greenpeace left them in 1986 and has since been criticized by Greenpeace and many other environmental groups. His co-founding of Greenpeace should give him no additional credibility as an environmentalist. According to his wikipedia page:

      “Moore’s work as a lobbyist has prompted criticism from environmental activists, who have accused him of acting as an advocate for many of the industries that Greenpeace was founded to counter.”

      6) Our taxes have gone up and will continue to go up making us think that higher taxes are going to make the bad weather go away

      In the Caribbean? No serious person has made this claim, and if anyone believes it they aren’t thinking. Climate change is caused by global activity and Caribbean islands are only about 1% of the earth’s population.
      Any tax money spent combatting climate change would either be to show we are also “doing our part” to encourage other nations, or to help mitigate some of the negative effects.

      It is hard to take anything you say in your post seriously when you make wild statements but provide no reliable sources for your claims. Please feel free to link me to any you have.

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