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History of Climate Records and Climate Change in Mexico City

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History of Climate Records and Climate Change in Mexico City

Mexico City lies in the Basin of Mexico, and has been one of the most densely-populated areas of the world for thousands of years[1]. Consequently, it serves as a prime area for exploration of human impacts on climate and climate change. Mountains surround the Basin of Mexico on three sides; when the Spanish conquered the basin in 1519, it contained five lakes that connected during times of abundant precipitation. The lakes were drained as modern Mexico City expanded and today the majority of the basin is covered with human structures and concrete roads (Kasperson et al, 1995). With latitude 19 degrees and an elevation of 2250m, Mexico City has a temperate climate year-round. Summer brings intense convective rains caused by the unstable air and moist conditions of the prevailing trade winds (Juaregei, 1997). An abundance of historical data has the power to tell us whether the climate has always been this way, or if manÕs overbearing presence in the Basin of Mexico has had real effects on the areaÕs climate.

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Lake Texcoco, the site of modern Mexico City, during the time of Aztec rule (around 1500)

Although the area that Mexico City now occupies has was settled by man over 6,000 years ago, regular reports of temperature and rainfall were not collected until 1826. The Mexico City newspaper, El Sol, was the publication that first made regular weather reports available (OÕHara and Metcalfe, 1995). More widespread collection of weather data was taken beginning in the 1870Õs through the newly-establish Meteorological Observatory, which introduced meteorological stations throughout the country, but civil unrest later on...

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...ents. Eds. Jeanne X. Kasperson, Rogr E. Kasperson, and B.L. Truner II. New York: United Nations University Press, 1995.

Juaregei, Ernesto. ÒClimate Changes in Mexico During the Historical and Instrumented

Periods.Ó Quarternary International. Vol. 43/44. (1997): 7-17.

Juaregei, Ernesto. ÒHeat Island Development in Mexico City.Ó Atmospheric Environment. Vol. 31, No.22. (1997): 3821-3831.

Metcalfe, Sarah E. ÒHistoical Data and Climatic Change in Mexico: A Review.Ó The Geographical Journal. Vol. 153, No. 2. (1987): 211-222.

OÕHara, Sarah L., and Sarah E. Metcalfe. ÒThe Climate of Mexico Since the Aztec Period.Ó Quarternary International. Vol. 43/44. (1997): 25-31.

OÕHara, Sarah L., and Sarah E. Metcalfe. ÒReconstructing the Climate of Mexico from Historical Records.Ó The Holocene. Vol. 5, No. 4. (1995): 485-490.
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