Articles | Volume 7, issue 3
Clim. Past, 7, 957–974, 2011
Clim. Past, 7, 957–974, 2011

Research article 30 Aug 2011

Research article | 30 Aug 2011

A millennial multi-proxy reconstruction of summer PDSI for Southern South America

É. Boucher1, J. Guiot1, and E. Chapron2 É. Boucher et al.
  • 1Centre Européen de Recherche et d'Enseignement des Géosciences de l'Environnement (CEREGE), UMR6635, CNRS – Europôle Méditerranéen de l'Arbois, 13545 Aix-en-Provence cedex 4, France
  • 2ISTO UMR6113 Université d'Orléans, 1A rue de la Férollerie, 45071 Orléans cedex 2, France

Abstract. We present the first spatially explicit field reconstruction of the summer (DJF) Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) for the Southern Hemisphere. Our multi-proxy reconstruction focuses on Southern South America (SSA, south of 20° S) and is based on a novel spectral analogue method that aims at reconstructing low PDSI frequencies independently from higher frequencies. The analysis of past regimes and trends in extreme wet spells and droughts reveals considerable geographical and temporal variations over the last millennium in SSA. Although recent changes are in some cases notorious, most were not exceptional at the scale of the last thousand years. Our reconstruction highlights that low frequency water availability fluctuations in Patagonia were generally in antiphase with the rest of the subcontinent. Providing the fact that modern patterns of changes are transferable to the past, we show that such antiphases within SSA's hydroclimate could be attributed to the spatially contrasted response of summer PDSI to the Antarctic Oscillation (AAO). However, El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) signals are also embedded within the PDSI series during the 20th century. All these ocean-atmospheric forcings acted synergically, but the dominant influence appeared highly compartmentalized through space, highlighting clear AAO- (e.g. South Patagonia) and ENSO- (e.g. the Pampas) dominated regions. Our results therefore emphasize the complexity of water-availability fluctuations in SSA and their important dependence on external ocean-atmospheric forcings.