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Synchronous Interhemispheric Holocene Climate Trends in the Tropical Andes

Polissar, Pratigya Jeremy; Wolfe, Alexander P.; Abbott, Mark B.; Vuille, Mathias; Bezada, Maximiliano

Holocene variations of tropical moisture balance have been ascribed to orbitally forced changes in solar insolation. If this model is correct, millennial-scale climate evolution should be antiphased between the northern and southern hemispheres, producing humid intervals in one hemisphere matched to aridity in the other. Here we show that Holocene climate trends were largely synchronous and in the same direction in the northern and southern hemisphere outer-tropical Andes, providing little support for the dominant role of insolation forcing in these regions. Today, sea-surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean modulate rainfall variability in the outer tropical Andes of both hemispheres, and we suggest that this mechanism was pervasive throughout the Holocene. Our findings imply that oceanic forcing plays a larger role in regional South American climate than previously suspected, and that Pacific sea-surface temperatures have the capacity to induce abrupt and sustained shifts in Andean climate.

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Also Published In

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Biology and Paleo Environment
Published Here
January 22, 2014