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Cuba sees warmer weather

HAVANA, Nov. 28 –Cuba has experienced and will continue to experience warmer weather, according to the Climate Center of the country's Meteorology Institute.

Between 1951 and 2010, the average temperature climbed 0.9 degrees Centigrade and the average minimum temperature rose about 1.9 degrees, the center said.

And climate experts at the center forecast a two-to-three-degree increase by the end of the century.

With the temperature going ever higher, Cuba has already seen an increase in the frequency of droughts, as well as more intense and prolonged dry spells, especially since 1961, representing one of the most important climate changes observed in the last five decades.

The weather changes are leading to high evaporation rates, soil degradation and declining water reserves, affecting agricultural production.

Cuban climate experts are working on the design and implementation of measures to face the consequences posed by global warming in sectors such as agriculture, water resources, soil, forests, coastal ecosystems, settlements, biodiversity, and human and animal health.

A program titled "Climate change in Cuba: Impact, mitigation and adaptation," for example, includes the implementation of 16 projects involving 150 researchers at 27 national institutions.

According to experts, the Caribbean is one of the world regions to be most affected by climate change caused by stronger hurricanes, and rising sea levels leading to the disappearance of coastal towns and affecting tourism, Cuba's second biggest source of foreign revenue.

By 2050, the sea is expected to rise about 27 cm above the sea level, and by 2100, about 85 cm, Cuban experts forecast. The figures, though slight considered vertically, signify the penetration of saltwater up to 2 km inland in low lying areas.

Cuba has already seen a 1.2-m erosion at its leading beach resort, Varadero, and an erosion up to 3m at the resort of Jardines del Rey.

"If the current rate in the rise of sea levels holds, by 2050 Cuba would have lost nearly 2,700 square km of land area and about 9,000 homes." National Environment Agency Director Tomas Escobar said.

In Cuba, the rise in the sea level could damage or wipe out some 122 coastal villages, submerge many beaches and destroy freshwater sources and unutilized cropland, according to experts.

Given the potential consequences of rising sea levels due to the warmer weather, Cuban authorities have developed an action plan based on prevention studies to minimize risks, with a priority on conserving and rehabilitating ecosystems to protect the coastline, such as coral reefs, mangroves and sandy beaches, and also the habitats of species of commercial and conservation interest, such as sponges and oysters. (PNA/Xinhua)

PDS/EBP

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