14 Dec 2020 - Oceans are acutely sensitive to climate change. Guatemala's new monitoring system will track the changes, from sea level and water temperature, to fish catch and reef health.
With around one-third of Guatemala cloaked in tropical rainforest, and dozens of volcanoes and UNESCO World Heritage sites, the “land of many trees,” is rightly famous for its life on land.
Yet this picture reveals only part of Guatemala's riches. Below the ocean surface is a world of immense abundance and importance.
The oceans on either side of the country are national and international treasures. Home to thousands of species, they play a crucial role in regulating the Earth's climate system, while also providing essential goods and services for sustaining human health and wellbeing: food, clean air and water, and livelihoods
The impacts of climate change on Guatemala's coasts
According to Germanwatch’s Global Climate Risk Index, Guatemala ranked 16th in the world for countries most affected by extreme weather events in the 20-year period 1999 to 2018.
Particularly vulnerable are the Pacific and Caribbean marine coastal zones, which straddle either side of the country (represented on the national flag by two blue stripes).
Here, the fingerprints of climate change are evident: rising sea levels, changing weather patterns, and other impacts are directly affecting communities, ecosystems, and the economy.
The implications are considerable. These zones – which include over 120,000 km2 of marine space, greater than the land area of Guatemala – directly and indirectly support the livelihoods of 25 percent of the country’s population.
They represent economic activities of great national significance – for example, tourism, fishing and aquaculture, subsistence and export crop farming, and ports.
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