State of the Tropics – the Essays

1. The climates of the Tropics and how they are changing – Blair Trewin, Bureau of Meterology, Australia.

“Many features combine to make up the diverse climates of the Tropics. It is a warm region; mean annual temperatures exceed 20°C almost  throughout the Tropics, except at high elevations, and exceed 25°C in many parts of the tropical  zone. The tropical zone encompasses some of the  wettest locations on Earth, as well as some of the  world’s driest deserts”. In this essay, Blair Trewin explores the Tropics from a climatologist’s perspective – covering what makes a climate tropical and the key drivers of rainfall, temperature and wind patterns.

2. The impacts of climate change in the Tropics – Richard T Corlett, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Science, China.

“Predictions for biodiversity in the  lowland Tropics currently range from little change  to a drastic ‘lowland biotic attrition’, as species retreat upslope or die, and are not replaced”. Richard T Corlett provides an objective analysis of what we do and don’t know about the impacts of climate change in the Tropics. There are still many unknowns about how climate change will impact the Tropics but what is clear is that rising temperatures and changing rainfall regimes will have huge impacts on a region which has remained climatically stable for the past three million years.

3. Health in the Tropics – Professor Janet Hemingway, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Ghana and United Kingdom.

“There has been greater advocacy for  resourcing better health care and a major shift
in emphasis on setting, tracking and achieving major targets for improvement in health. This  has changed the landscape for how a number  of diseases, which carry a significant level  of mortality and morbidity in the Tropics,  are tackled. These combined initiatives have accelerated the rate of change, but much still remains to be done”. Janet Hemingway discusses the progress made in health care across the Tropics but acknowledges that the ongoing burden of infectious diseases and the rise of non-communicable diseases will provide ongoing challenges for the future.

4. Tropical Underdevelopment, is it a thing of the past? Dennis Trewin, former Australian Statistician.

“Is tropical underdevelopment a thing of the past?  Clearly the answer is no. However, unprecedented  growth and change in recent years has closed the gap between the Tropics and the Rest of the World,  and within an appropriate policy framework can continue to do so into the future”. In this essay, Dennis Trewin explores the seminal work of Jeffrey Sachs around underdevelopment in the Tropics with the updated data from the State of the Tropics report – some things have changed but there is still some way for tropical nations to go.

5. Expansion of the Tropics – Evidence and implications – Jo Isaac and Steve Turton, James Cook University, Australia.

” An estimate from more than 30 studies now puts the rate of tropical expansion somewhere between 1.25 – 2.5º, or  138 – 277 km, per 25 years”.  Jo Isaac and Steve Turton examine the evidence for an expanding tropical zone and the implications for ecosystems and communities throughout the Tropics and sub-tropics.

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