A climatological analysis of the southwest monsoon rainfall in the Philippines

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The historical behavior of the southwest monsoon (SWM) rainfall in the Philippines is described using observed rainfall during the months of June to September from 1961 to 2010. Data are obtained from meteorological stations situated in the western half of the country where the impact of SWM is well pronounced. Time series analysis indicates significant decreasing trends from 0.026% to 0.075% per decade in the total SWM rainfall in six of the nine stations (Ambulong, Baguio, Coron, Dagupan, Iba and Vigan) in the past 50 years. A rainfall anomaly index is derived to characterize the inter-annual variability and the influence of the El Niño Southern Oscillation on the SWM rainfall. Results show no above normal rainfall events associated with La Niña years and few occurrences of below normal rainfall associated with El Niño events. Years where the SWM rainfall significantly deviates from its climate mean are also identified. Furthermore, an examination of the rainfall extremes indicate an increasing trend in the number of days without rain, which can be detected with statistical confidence in Ambulong (2.9% per decade), Baguio (5.9% per decade) and Dagupan (4.0% per decade), as well as a decreasing trend in the heavy rainfall days. These findings suggest a climatic change towards a prolonged dry period and an overall decreasing trend in rainfall during the SWM season over western Philippines in the recent decades, which can have serious implications on the country's agricultural sector.