Articles | Volume 18, issue 9
Research article
 | Highlight paper
02 Sep 2022
Research article | Highlight paper |  | 02 Sep 2022

South American Summer Monsoon variability over the last millennium in paleoclimate records and isotope-enabled climate models

Rebecca Orrison, Mathias Vuille, Jason E. Smerdon, James Apaéstegui, Vitor Azevedo, Jose Leandro P. S. Campos, Francisco W. Cruz, Marcela Eduarda Della Libera, and Nicolás M. Stríkis

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Cited articles

Ampuero, A., Stríkis, N. M., Apaéstegui, J., Vuille, M., Novello, V. F., Espinoza, J. C., Cruz, F. W., Vonhof, H., Mayta, V. C., Martins, V. T. S., Corderio, R. C., Azevedo, V., and Sifeddine, A.: The forest effects on the isotopic composition of rainfall in the northwestern Amazon Basin., J. Geophys. Res.-Atmos., 125, e2019JD031445,, 2020. 
Anchukaitis, K. J. and Tierney, J. E.: Identifying coherent spatiotemporal modes in time-uncertain proxy paleoclimate records, Clim. Dynam., 41, 1291–1306,, 2013. 
Apaéstegui, J., Cruz, F. W., Sifeddine, A., Vuille, M., Espinoza, J. C., Guyot, J. L., Khodri, M., Strikis, N., Santos, R. V., Cheng, H., Edwards, L., Carvalho, E., and Santini, W.: Hydroclimate variability of the northwestern Amazon Basin near the Andean foothills of Peru related to the South American Monsoon System during the last 1600 years, Clim. Past, 10, 1967–1981,, 2014. 
Apaéstegui, J., Cruz, F. W., Vuille, M., Fohlmeister, J., Espinoza, J. C., Siffedine, A., Strikis, N. M., Guyot, J. L., Ventura, R., Cheng, H., and Edwards, R. L.: Precipitation changes over the eastern Bolivian Andes inferred from speleothem (δ18O) records for the last 1400 years, Earth Planet. Sc. Lett., 494, 124–134,, 2018. 
Aron, P. G., Poulsen, C. J., Fiorella, R. P., Levin, N. E., Acosta, R. P., Yanites, B. J., and Cassel, E. J.: Variability and Controls on δ18O, d-excess, and Δ17O in Southern Peruvian Precipitation, J. Geophys. Res.-Atmos., 126, e2020JD034009,, 2021. 
This study presents a novel Monte Carlo Empirical Orthogonal Function analysis that combines a dense isotopic proxy network with isotope-enabled climate models to study dynamics and variability of South American Monsoon System (SAMS) over past millennium. This analysis reveals that the leading modes of SAMS variability over the past millennium are regionally stable, arising independently of external forcing (solar, volcanic, orbital). Significant enhancement of the SAMS is accompanied by southward displacement of the South Atlantic Convergence Zone during the Little Ice Age, giving rise to a strengthened South American precipitation dipole. Proxy-model comparison demonstrates outstanding mismatches in centennial-scale hydroclimate departures during the Medieval Climate Anomaly and Little Ice Age from the last millennium mean state. The results of last millennium SASM variability contextualizes modern variability of SASM. The identified proxy data-model mismatch raises a key question to climate simulations of SASM variability, which may attract broad attention from paleoclimate modeling community. Moreover, the reported methodology can be applied to paleoclimate problems of various spatial and temporal scales and is of relevance for the broader geoscience community.
Short summary
We evaluated the South American Summer Monsoon over the last millennium and dynamically interpreted the principal modes of variability. We find the spatial patterns of the monsoon are an intrinsic feature of the climate modulated by external forcings. Multi-centennial mean state departures during the Medieval Climate Anomaly and Little Ice Age show regionally coherent patterns of hydroclimatic change in both a multi-archive network of oxygen isotope records and isotope-enabled climate models.