Surface thermal perturbations of the recent past at low latitudes – inferences based on borehole temperature data from Eastern Brazil
- 1Observatório Nacional – ON/MCT, Rua General José Cristino, 77, São Cristóvão, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- 2Exploration and Production – SERV/US-SUB/GDS, PETROBRÁS S/A, Macaé, Rio de Janeiro
Abstract. Borehole temperature data from the eastern parts of Brazil has been examined in an attempt to extract information on surface thermal perturbations of the recent past at low latitudes. Forward models were employed in the analysis of temperature logs from 17 localities and, in addition, Bayesian inverse modeling was carried out for data from 14 selected sites. The model results have allowed determination of the magnitude as well as the duration of ground surface temperature (GST) changes in three major geographic zones of Brazil. Prominent among such changes are the warming episodes that occurred over much of the subtropical highland regions in the southeastern parts of Brazil. The present magnitude of GST changes in this region are in the range of 2 to 3.5°C but have had their beginning during the early decades of the 20th century. Nearly similar trends are also seen in temperature-depth profiles of bore holes in the subtropical humid zones of the interior and coastal areas of southern Brazil. The data from semi arid zones of northeast Brazil also indicate occurrence of surface warming events but the magnitudes are in the range of 1.4 to 2.2°C while the duration of the warming event is larger, extending back into the last decades of the 19th century. There are indications that changes in both climate and vegetation cover contribute to variations in GST. Thus the magnitudes of GST variations are relatively large in localities which have undergone changes in vegetation cover. Also there are indications that GST changes are practically insignificant in areas of tropical rain forest. Another important result emerging from model studies is that the climate was relatively cooler during the 17th and 18th centuries. The climate histories, deduced from geothermal data, are found to be consistent with results of available meteorological records in southern Brazil. Comparative studies also indicate that the magnitudes and duration of recent climate changes in southern and eastern Brazil are similar to those found in other continental areas such as North America, Asia and Europe.