We appreciate the opportunity to propose a special issue on hydrologic research in the Caribbean Basin. This basin carries a great deal of significance as both a place for tourism and agrobusiness as well as being home to over 150 million people. Its composition is diverse as it is made up of a chain of islands stretching from the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Hispaniola, and Puerto Rico) eastwards to include the Leeward and Windward Islands, and then the Cancun peninsula, the countries making up Central American, and the countries in the northern region of South America (Columbia and Venezuela). Climate Change is posed to have a dramatic impact on the weather patterns for this region with anticipated changes that include longer periods of droughts, an overall decline of annual rainfall volumes, and an increased occurrence of extreme events such as tropical storms and hurricanes. There are also anthropogenic changes due to deforestation and agrobusiness, the latter requiring water from ground and surface water sources, as well as tourism development that put a strain on the freshwater resources. All of the above mechanisms have and continue to have a significant impact on the water resources in the region with potentially vast adverse impacts.
In this special issue we want to explore both the current state of hydrologic research in the region and the focus areas that emerge as the challenges are mounting for the countries in the region and their populations. As such, we would like to define the scope as encompassing as we can where we see WATER at the nexus of adjoining contextual areas. For example, Climate Change is a significant driver for changes in Caribbean weather patterns, which suggest that hydro climatology is one of the areas we seek to address. Another driver is agrobusiness which requires irrigation, especially in view of larger and longer lasting draughts. This has also a potentially devastating impact on subsistence farming because many of these farmers rely on rainfed irrigation. Also, since island nations are, by definition, surrounded by a sea of saltwater, saltwater intrusion into the coastal aquifers is becoming a pressing problem. This suggests the interest areas of both groundwater hydrology as aquifers provide a significant percentage of freshwater supplies, as well as irrigation hydrology. Anthropogenic impacts include deforestation on a broad scale as impoverished populations seek to cover their energy demands by cutting down trees for charcoal production. There is also the wide-scale lumber industry and the removal of indigenous plant diversity for the sake of mono-cultural agrobusiness plantations. This has a significant impact on the ecological health of the region as soil moisture, evapotranspiration, and plant cover and canopies are being dramatically altered or disappear altogether. We are therefore compelled to include the area of watershed scale hydrology in which changes to the processes can be observed as far as the storage volumes, residence times and flow paths of fresh water are concerned.
We remain open to other topical areas if the submission process should yield contributions that are of high quality and fit into the context of Caribbean Hydrology; key here is to try to be inclusive rather than to exclude individuals. We are looking forward to the creation and compilation of this special issue.
Dr. Michael Piasecki and Dr. Eric Harmsen, Guest Editors
For more information or to submit a paper click here.