In this study, an analysis of century scale climate trends in the central highlands of Sri Lanka is presented. Monthly rainfall and temperature records of the period 1869–2006 from five climatological stations were analyzed. The trend is calculated by the least square regression analysis and the significance of the observed trend is estimated using the Mann–Kendall statistic. The results clearly show that there is a statistically significant decrease in annual rainfall in the western slopes of the central highlands. Throughout the last century, the annual reduction of rainfall in Nuwara Eliya which is at an altitude of 1895 m was 5.2 mm/year. The decrease is largely due to the reduction in southwest monsoon rainfall which contributes to 75% of the total reduction. No significant change was observed on the eastern side of the central highlands which receives rainfall predominantly from the northeast monsoons. The mean annual temperature in the mountainous region shows a uniform increasing trend which is in line with the 100-year global temperature increase of 0.8 ± 0.2°C. Kandy, which is at an altitude of 477 m and closely linked with the rainfall climatology of Nuwara Eliya, showed no significant change in the mean annual temperature. If the current trend continues, in another 100 years, western and eastern slopes of central highlands will receive the same amount of rainfall from the southwest monsoon and the northeast monsoon which will have far reaching consequences for Sri Lanka’s economy and the ecology of the hill country.
Volume 128 | Issue 8
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