CR 69:93-105 (2016)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01399

Long-term seasonality of rainfall in the southwest Florida Gulf coastal zone

Margaret Gitau1,*

1Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Purdue University, 225 South University Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: In addition to supporting fisheries and wildlife, coastal water resources provide a variety of ecosystem services including water purification and storm surge protection, and the intangible such as educational, spiritual, and inspirational benefits. The integrity of these resources is, however, threatened by the inherent impacts of climate variability and change. Seasonality of climate is particularly important as it influences ecosystem diversity and other sensitive ecosystem components that are important to water resource integrity. For example, rainfall seasonality affects water availability, timing of inputs, seasonal water balance, ecological responses, and inter-annual responses of water resource systems. This study examines long-term seasonality of rainfall in the coastal zone with particular focus on the southwest Florida Gulf coastal zone. Analyses show marked inter-annual variations in rainfall seasonality, although trends are not significant. Decadal patterns show a primarily seasonal regime (0.6 ≤ Decadal Seasonality Index ≤ 0.79) with one markedly wet season and 2 drier periods. A cyclic pattern in seasonality is discernible on a regional basis, although there seems to have been a shift in cycle spans from 20 yr in the earlier decades to 30 yr in more recent decades, which could render water resource systems more vulnerable to climate change effects. The analyses showed a tendency towards long drier periods along with increases in rainy season (June-September) rainfall and progressive decreases in October-December rainfall. Results provide information useful for management decision-making and a basis for further assessments in the region. Approaches and methodologies are applicable to other coastal areas.


KEY WORDS: Water resources · Coastal zone · Climate · Seasonality · Rainfall


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Cite this article as: Gitau M (2016) Long-term seasonality of rainfall in the southwest Florida Gulf coastal zone. Clim Res 69:93-105. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01399

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