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Open AccessArticle

Aridity Trends in Central America: A Spatial Correlation Analysis

Escuela de Estadística and Centro de Investigación en Matemática Pura y Aplicada, Universidad de Costa Rica, San José 11501, Costa Rica
Escuela de Física and Centro de Investigaciones Geofísicas, Universidad de Costa Rica, San José 11501, Costa Rica
Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad de Costa Rica, San José 11501, Costa Rica
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Atmosphere 2020, 11(4), 427;
Received: 23 February 2020 / Revised: 25 March 2020 / Accepted: 26 March 2020 / Published: 23 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Central America and Caribbean Hydrometeorology and Hydroclimate)
Trend analyses are common in several types of climate change studies. In many cases, finding evidence that the trends are different from zero in hydroclimate variables is of particular interest. However, when estimating the confidence interval of a set of hydroclimate stations or gridded data the spatial correlation between can affect the significance assessment using for example traditional non-parametric and parametric methods. For this reason, Monte Carlo simulations are needed in order to generate maps of corrected trend significance. In this article, we determined the significance of trends in aridity, modeled runoff using the Variable Infiltration Capacity Macroscale Hydrological model, Hagreaves potential evapotranspiration (PET) and near-surface temperature in Central America. Linear-regression models were fitted considering that the predictor variable is the time variable (years from 1970 to 1999) and predictand variable corresponds to each of the previously mentioned hydroclimate variables. In order to establish if the temporal trends were significantly different from zero, a Mann Kendall and a Monte Carlo test were used. The spatial correlation was calculated first to correct the variance of each trend. It was assumed in this case that the trends form a spatial stochastic process that can be modeled as such. Results show that the analysis considering the spatial correlation proposed here can be used for identifying those extreme trends. However, a set of variables with strong spatial correlation such as temperature can have robust and widespread significant trends assuming independence, but the vast majority of the stations can still fail the Monte Carlo test. We must be vigilant of the statistically robust changes in key primary parameters such as temperature and precipitation, which are the driving sources of hydrological alterations that may affect social and environmental systems in the future. View Full-Text
Keywords: aridity; Central American climate; spatial correlation; trend analysis; variability aridity; Central American climate; spatial correlation; trend analysis; variability
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MDPI and ACS Style

Alfaro-Córdoba, M.; Hidalgo, H.G.; Alfaro, E.J. Aridity Trends in Central America: A Spatial Correlation Analysis. Atmosphere 2020, 11, 427.

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