Country

Dominica

Explore historical and projected climate data, climate data by sector, impacts, key vulnerabilities and what adaptation measures are being taken. Explore the overview for a general context of how climate change is affecting Dominica.

Vulnerability

In rating the island’s level of exposure and vulnerability to extreme events, Germanwatch’s 2010 Global Climate Risk Index ranks Dominica 25th out of 150 countries at risk and 55th with losses of 9.62% gross domestic product based on an analysis of extreme weather events between 1998 and 2007. Two factors were cited for Dominica: the impact of global warming on rising sea levels that increase the risk of storm surges, and the increase in the strength of hurricanes. Dominica is at risk to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, floods and landslides, and hurricanes. 

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.

Natural Hazard Statistics

The charts provide overview of the most frequent natural disaster in a given country and understand the impacts of those disasters on human populations.

Natural Hazard / Development Nexus

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.

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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.

 
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Key Vulnerabilities

  • Since 1950, Dominica has been affected by 13 named tropical storm systems passing within 40 km of the island, and since 1979, it has been impacted by 15 tropical systems including 11 hurricanes. Generally, the north Atlantic hurricane frequency is characterized by a multidecadal cycle that yields active and inactive phases lasting 10 or more years. However, since 1995, the north Atlantic has swung into a very active hurricane phase, with some of the country’s most devastating recent hurricane events, Marilyn (1995), Lenny (1999) and Dean (2007), occurring in this active phase. 
  • Steep cliffs and terrain in Dominica present a constant threat to roads and villages from rock fall and debris slides. Landslides along river courses are also not uncommon, and the pooling of water behind landslides is a key contributor to flood risk. Landslides and flash floods along the island’s steep terrain are also a common threat, especially during the wet season and hurricane events.
  • Dominica is considered to be the most geologically active island in the Caribbean due to its close proximity to the eastern margin of the Caribbean plate and it being the only island with more than one volcano, with eight in total. The scientific community also considers Dominica to be at significant risk from a volcanic eruption within the next 100 years, and stronger earthquake events have been noted in recent years suggesting an increase in the risk of magmatic eruption. The region is tectonically active and Dominica is exposed to potential earthquake impacts associated with plate activity. This is especially worrisome as an estimated 90% of the population lives within 5 km of a live volcano.

More information on natural hazards can be found at ThinkHazard.

  • Current development patterns on the island pose great implications under future climate scenarios of increased precipitation and possible storms, as already unstable areas will experience a greater magnitude and occurrence of landslides and flooding. Zoning laws need to be improved and vulnerability studies carried out to identify and limit development in these areas.
  • Possible future climate scenarios show Dominica experiencing a warming and drying trend and thus more frequent heat waves and droughts which in turn would threaten Dominica’s dominant economic sectors of agricultural production and eco-tourism (forests and biodiversity). Heat tolerant crops and early warning systems for farmers and forestry management may mitigate these affects.
  • According to the World Bank’s study “Sea Level Rise and Storm Surges” the impact of sea level rise and intensified storm surges in Latin America and the Caribbean will be markedly higher under future climate trends. As 90% of Dominica’s population resides in coastal areas, infrastructure, economic production and livelihoods will be placed at higher risk for hazards and disasters.
  • Although increased hurricane intensity as a product of climate change under future climate conditions is still a matter of debate, the Intergovernmental Panel’s Fourth Assessment Report concluded that increased hurricane wind intensities are likely.