The Mexican climate is shaped by three influences – the cold California Current, the North Pacific anticyclone, and the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea. The cold California current flows from the edge of British Colombia to Baja, lowering temperatures and reducing rainfall (Focus on Mexico). The North Pacific anticyclone is responsible for the desert and semi-desert conditions in much of Northwest Mexico. Lastly, the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea make the eastern coastal area a tropical coast. Another equally important influence is the continental landmass of North America.
The mean annual temperature in the country varies from 26-28°C in low altitude areas. The average temperature at 1500m altitude ranges from 21°C at Guadalajara to 18°C at Chihuahua. The variation in monthly temperature is minimal in the south but increases northwards. The northwest coastal region is the driest part of the country, receiving an annual average rainfall of only 255mm. Elsewhere in the country precipitation is more plentiful. The rainy season runs from May to October over the whole country.
Mexico has become warmer and the temperatures are expected to keep rising (Focus on Mexico). By the end of this century, the annual average temperature of most parts of the country is expected to rise by 1.5 – 2.5 degrees Celsius. In the northern parts of the nation, the mean annual temperature could rise by 3 – 4 degrees Celsius. While these seem like small changes in temperature, a small change in temperature can affect an ecosystem. In addition to the country being warmer, more intense wildfire seasons and devastating droughts have now become part and parcel of Mexico.
Mexico is today drier than it was in the past. A country that has long been known for its enormous lakes is currently grappling with lack of adequate water. Mexico City, for example, must pump water from deep underground. This situation is expected to worsen if climate change issues are not addressed. Mexico had the worst drought in 2011 with more than 1.5 million cattle dying due to starvation and millions of acres of crop drying at least in five states.
Climate change has significantly reduced crop yield in Mexico. Mexican land has become less suitable for growing food and crops. Cropland suitability is expected to decline by 40-70% in the next 20 years. By the end of this century, crop suitability is expected to decline by 80 to 100 percent. The loss of cropland will lead to displacements, increase malnutritional population, and permanent migration.
Solutions to Climate Change
Mexico has strengthened actions to improve fuel efficiency and the switch to clean fuels. There are three specific policies in the area of improving fuel efficiency – waste heat recovery, industry energy efficient standards, and cement clicker substitution. In addition to having strong political support in the country, these policies have a high potential uptake by the private sector. The adaptation of the ISO 50001 energy performance standard will improve industrial efficiency.
Mexico has two strong policies for reducing emissions of non-CO2 gases. The first policy focusses on reducing methane emissions while the second focuses on venting byproduct gases with high GWP. If these policies are fully implemented, the country will have a greater ability to reduce its negative contribution to climate change. Other steps the country has taken include improving the efficiency of electricity, partnering with Canada and the U.S to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, and it has developed a long-term strategy for zero greenhouse gas emissions.
Focus on Mexico. Climate in Mexico. N.d. https://www.focusonmexico.com/climate-mexico
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