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Agrometeorology in Belize

Last modified December 14, 2020 11:35

Agrometeorology in Belize

BelizeSituated on the Caribbean coast of Central America between Mexico and Guatemala, Belize is geographically small but extremely diverse. As a low-lying, coastal country, dependent on climate-sensitive industries including agriculture, fisheries, and tourism, Belize has been recognised in international and regional risk assessments as vulnerable to weather and climatic variability: from day-to-day weather events to seasonal/interannual variability in precipitation and temperature, and longer-term changes in temperature, precipitation, and storm intensity. Precipitation is an important limiting factor for Belizean agriculture (rain-fed cultivation is common). Excessive rainfall can cause waterlogging and disease; drought conditions limit water availability for crops. Much of the Caribbean, including Belize, has an annual dry season (Nov/Dec–May/Jun), and a wet/hurricane season (May/Jun–Nov/Dec). The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is an important driver of interannual rainfall variability (WMO 2016).

Increasing understanding of  ENSO and other drivers has contributed to production of seasonal consensus predictions of rainfall including by the Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum (CARICOF) and Central American Climate Outlook Forum (CACOF)—two of 20 regional forums supported by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO 2017). Belize attends both. The regional forums constitute deliberate attempts to engage “users” of climateinformation, though they go about this in different ways, from linear information transfer to more collaborative efforts (Daly and Dessai 2018). Daly and Dessai (2018) found that the CARICOF and CACOF are among the forums that have developed collaborative strategies to co-produce sector-specific products. In Belize, efforts to deliver climate services for agriculture at the national level have primarily involved monthly to seasonal rainfall outlooks, published by the Belize National Meteorological Service (NMS). Belize is thus a productive site to study if/how purposeful efforts at user engagement play out, in a context where climate variability and change are recognised as potential threats to livelihoods, businesses, and food security.

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