Main content area

Drought Effects on Forests and Rangelands in the US Caribbean

USDA Caribbean Climate Hub
Issues of water quality and scarcity are of great concern across the U.S. Caribbean. In recent years Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have experienced uncommonly dry weather that has caused moderate to severe droughts. In 2014-2015, severe drought in Puerto Rico required the implementation of water restrictions that affected millions of people. The summer of 2015 was the third driest period in Puerto Rico since 1898, forcing the strictest water rationing in its history. Emerging climate models for the region (Figure 1) predict an overall decrease in precipitation over the next century, but also to greater variance in seasonality and an increase in intense precipitation events. The temporal and spatial distribution of rainfall can have profound effects on the hydrology as well as the phenology and life-cycle of trees, rangeland species, pests and pollinators. Changing rainfall patterns will mean major adjustments in how working lands are managed by producers and planners.
USDA Caribbean Climate Hub
USDA publications