Articles | Volume 19, issue 2
Research article
27 Feb 2023
Research article |  | 27 Feb 2023

On the importance of moisture conveyor belts from the tropical eastern Pacific for wetter conditions in the Atacama Desert during the mid-Pliocene

Mark Reyers, Stephanie Fiedler, Patrick Ludwig, Christoph Böhm, Volker Wennrich, and Yaping Shao

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Cited articles

Amidon, W. H., Fisher, G. B., Burbank, D. W., Ciccioli, P. L., Alonso, R. N., Gorin, A. L., Silverhart, P. H., Kylander-Clark, A. R. C., and Christoffersen, M. S.: Mio-Pliocene aridity in the south-central Andes associated with Southern Hemisphere cold periods, P. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 114, 6474–6479,, 2017. 
Amundson, R., Dietrich, W., Bellugi, D., Ewing, S., Nishiizumi, K., Chong, G., Owen, J., Finkel, R., Heimsath, A., Stewart, B., and Caffee, M.: Geomorphologic evidence for the late Pliocene onset of hyperaridity in the Atacama Desert, Geol. Soc. Am. Bull., 124, 1048–1070,, 2012. 
Bartz, M., Walk, J., Binnie, S. A., Brill, D., Stauch, G., Lehmkuhl, F., Hoffmeister, D., and Brückner, H.: Late Pleistocene alluvial fan evolution along the coastal Atacama Desert (N Chile), Global Planet. Change, 190, 10309,, 2020. 
Bauer, S. E., Tsigaridis, K., Faluvegi, G., Kelley, M., Lo, K. K., Miller, R. L., Nazarenko, L., Schmidt, G. A., and Wu, J.: Historical (1850–2014) aerosol evolution and role on climate forcing using the GISS ModelE2.1 contribution to CMIP6, J. Adv. Model. Earth Sy., 12, e2019MS001978,, 2020. 
Böhm, C., Reyers, M., Herbert, S., and Crewell, S.: Water vapor variability in the Atacama Desert during the 20th century, Global Planet. Change, 190, 103192,, 2020. 
Short summary
In this study we performed high-resolution climate model simulations for the hyper-arid Atacama Desert for the mid-Pliocene (3.2 Ma). The aim is to uncover the atmospheric processes that are involved in the enhancement of strong rainfall events during this period. We find that strong upper-level moisture fluxes (so-called moisture conveyor belts) originating in the tropical eastern Pacific are the main driver for increased rainfall in the mid-Pliocene.