Barbados is located along the hurricane belt where most transatlantic hurricanes pass, which makes Barbados vulnerable to all the major impacts associated with them, including storm surge and flooding. Hurricane season takes place during the months of June to November with increased frequency during the months of September to November. Barbados is also at risk to floods, droughts, storms that are not classified as hurricanes, and occasional landslides.
This section provides a summary of key natural hazards and their associated socioeconomic impacts in a given country. And it allows quick evaluation of most vulnerable areas through the spatial comparison of natural hazard data with development data, thereby identifying exposed livelihoods and natural systems.
The charts provide overview of the most frequent natural disaster in a given country and understand the impacts of those disasters on human populations.
Climate change is now recognized to have a significant impact on disaster management efforts and pose a significant threat to the efforts to meet the growing needs of the most vulnerable populations. The demands of disaster risk management are such that concise, clear, and reliable information is crucial. The information presented here offers insight into the frequency, impact and occurrence of natural hazards. Source (PDF)
Understanding natural hazard occurrence as well as historical climate conditions, in relation to development contexts, is critical to understanding a country’s historical vulnerability. This tool allows the visualization of different natural hazards or historical climate conditions with socio-economic and development datasets. Select the Development Context and either a Natural Hazard or Climate Condition and overlay horizontally by sliding the toggle left or right to gain a broader sense of historically vulnerable areas.
Data presented under Historical Climate Conditions are reanalysis products derived from ERA5-Land data. ERA5-Land is a global land-surface dataset at 9 km resolution, consistent with atmospheric data from the ERA5 reanalysis from 1950 onward. Climate reanalyses combine past observations with models to generate consistent time series of multiple climate variables. They provide a comprehensive description of the observed climate as it has evolved during recent decades, on 3D grids at sub-daily intervals.
This data has been collected, aggregated and processed by the Climate Resilience Cluster of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Earth Observation for Sustainable Development (EO4SD) initiative.
- Barbados has experienced 7 storm events during the period from 1955-2015.
- Barbados has not suffered a direct hurricane hit, but does experience damage from passing storms nonetheless. These impacts include torrential rainfall that can cause extreme flooding and water-logged farmlands as experienced with Tropical storm Thomas in 2010.
- Due to its low terrain, coupled with poor drainage and lack of inadequate storm water infrastructure, Barbados is susceptible to flooding. Low-pressure systems that bring torrential rainfall often cause flooding in areas of the west and south coast where approximately 25% of the population resides.
- Storm surges apart from erosion can also lead to flooding in low-lying areas, causing damage to coastal infrastructure crucial to the tourism sector.
- Barbados does not often experience drought, though the country was severely water stressed as a result of one drought that occurred in 2010.
- Projected levels of sea level rise will affect the already vulnerable sectors in Barbados. Coastal inundation and increased beach loss will have a significant impact on the economy, especially the tourism sector.
- Though uncommon, landslides can occur with heavy rainfall from passing low-pressure systems. Small-scale landslides have occurred in the Scotland district, which is located on the northeast portion of the country. Earthflows, slumps and debris flows are the main types of landslides that occur in the Scotland District.
More information on natural hazards can be found at ThinkHazard.
- Storms and flooding are the common impacts associated with this region. The effects of climate change will exacerbate the frequency and intensity of these impacts. One of the challenges facing Barbados as a result is sea level rise. Consequences include increased coastal erosion and inundation and saltwater intrusion into inland aquifers. Eroding coastlines will place critical infrastructure in Barbados at risk to flooding.
- Related effects of storms and flooding: Destruction of tourism infrastructure; changes in commercial and subsistence yields; increase in pest populations; increased incidence of vector borne disease.
- Approximately 25% of the Barbados population is located on the coast. Sea level rise and saltwater intrusion will increase salinity, affecting the country’s water resources based on projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Barbados ranks 15th in the world for water scarcity. Strategic action has to be undertaken with some urgency to build resilience and to raise the level of public awareness.
- Related effects of sea level rise: Saltwater intrusion into aquifers; destruction of water infrastructure; changes in soil quality; indirect effect on nutrition and well-being due to the impact on agriculture and water resources.
- Rising sea surface temperatures will have adverse effects on coral reefs, causing them to bleach. For Barbados, where foreign exchange earnings are heavily dependent on tourism services, such an occurrence will seriously affect the product offerings of the country. The IPCC has stated in its 5th assessment report that rising temperatures will accelerate coral bleaching and loss. Monitoring systems will have to be established to ensure healthy coral stocks.
- Related effects of rising sea surface temperatures: Bleaching of coral reefs; reduction in fish stocks; biodiversity loss.
- Significant shoreline/beach loss can be expected due to sea level rise, as many of the beaches in Barbados are narrow (averaging 12-15m wide) with gentle gradients. The building of groynes and the use of heavy boulders along the south coast to assist in beach formation and to stop or limit beach erosion have been employed. The regular monitoring of beaches and the establishment of beach profiles to accurately measure erosion are useful approaches.