The development of long temperature and precipitation series for Ascension Island

Philip D. Jones, David H. Lister

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Ascension Island has had a long intermittent record of instrumental weather recording. Here, we develop monthly records of mean temperature and precipitation totals (for 1924-2020 when an almost complete record is available) from the three principal recording sites: the capital Georgetown and two gauges at Wideawake Airfield. Although some of the data are in global climate databases, we have sourced as much data as possible from the primary sources in the United Kingdom, the United States and from the island itself. Air temperature shows statistically significant warming since 1950 of 0.54°C and since 1979 of 0.40°C, and agrees closely with sea surface temperatures, taken from the seas around the island, back to the start of the island series in 1924. Although the island is too small to be in Reanalyses, the warming trends of air temperatures from these products also agree, but the absolute air temperature values are about 1°C cooler than measured on the island. Annual precipitation on the island indicates it is very arid, with a long-term average of only 165mm. Occasionally, heavy monthly precipitation totals occur (always between February and June) which bring severe damage to the island’s infrastructure and ecosystems. The heaviest monthly total was 334mm for April 1985.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1472-1482
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Climatology
Issue number3
Early online date31 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2022

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