Trends and variability of climate and river flow in the region of Costa das Baleias, Brazil

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

There is an ongoing effort by the scientific community to regionalize climate studies to support local development plans. The area of interest is the Costa das Baleias on the east coast of northeast Brazil. It is located in a transition region of precipitation trends, and so assessing the local signal and magnitude is necessary. A series of annual anomalies of surface air temperature, precipitation and river discharge were analyzed from 1946 to 2010. The modified Mann–Kendall test was applied to detect trends. Temperature anomalies showed a consistent positive trend since 1950. Precipitation anomalies tended to decrease, though not significantly. River discharge rates showed a consistent positive trend. However, from the 1980s onwards, both the precipitation and the river discharge anomalies had the same decreasing tendency. The precipitation and discharge behavior are likely due to the combined effect of human interventions in the river basins including local, synoptic and global climate effects. The inter-annual variability was characterized by spectral analysis. Cycles were identified for the precipitation and the river discharge with periods of 2–3 years, 3–4 years, 7–8 years and 11–12 years. The decadal frequency is consistent with the South Atlantic and El Niño indices. This work strongly indicates that climate is changing in Costa das Baleias and further work is needed to investigate the mechanisms that link local to large-scale variability.

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