A 300-year tree-ring δ18O-based precipitation reconstruction for the South American Altiplano highlights decadal hydroclimate teleconnections

Rodriguez-Caton, Milagros; Morales, Mariano S.; Rao, Mukund Palat; Nixon, Troy; Vuille, Mathias; Rivera, Juan Antonio; Oelkers, Rose C.; Christie, Duncan A.; Varuolo-Clarke, Arianna Marie; Ferrero, M. Eugenia; Magney, Troy; Daux, Valérie; Villalba, Ricardo; Andreu Hayles, Laia

Tropical South American climate is influenced by the South American Summer Monsoon and the El Niño Southern Oscillation. However, assessing natural hydroclimate variability in the region is hindered by the scarcity of long-term instrumental records. Here we present a tree-ring δ18O-based precipitation reconstruction for the South American Altiplano for 1700–2013 C.E., derived from Polylepis tarapacana tree rings. This record explains 56% of December–March instrumental precipitation variability in the Altiplano. The tree-ring δ18O chronology shows interannual (2–5 years) and decadal (~11 years) oscillations that are remarkably consistent with periodicities observed in Altiplano precipitation, central tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures, southern-tropical Andean ice core δ18O and tropical Pacific coral δ18O archives. These results demonstrate the value of annual-resolution tree-ring δ18O records to capture hydroclimate teleconnections and generate robust tropical climate reconstructions. This work contributes to a better understanding of global oxygen-isotope patterns, as well as atmospheric and oceanic processes across the tropics.

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Communications Earth and Environment