Received: 11 Jan 2008 – Discussion started: 14 Feb 2008
Abstract. El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is an important element of earth's ocean-climate system. To further understand its past variability, proxy records from climate archives need to be studied. Ice cores from high alpine glaciers may contain high resolution ENSO proxy information, given the glacier site is climatologically sensitive to ENSO. We investigated signals of ENSO in the climate of the subtropical Andes in the proximity of Cerro Tapado glacier (30°08' S, 69°55' W, 5550 m a.s.l.), where a 36 m long ice core was drilled in 1999 (Ginot, 2001). We used annual and semi-annual precipitation and temperature time series from regional meteorological stations and interpolated grids for correlation analyses with ENSO indices and ice core-derived proxies (net accumulation, stable isotope ratio δ18O, major ion concentrations). The total time period investigated here comprises 1900 to 2000, but varies with data sets. Only in the western, i.e. Mediterranean Andes precipitation is higher (lower) during El Niño (La Niña) events, especially at higher altitudes, due to the latitudinal shift of frontal activity during austral winters. However, the temperature response to ENSO is more stable in space and time, being higher (lower) during El Niño (La Niña) events in most of the subtropical Andes all year long. From a northwest to southeast teleconnection gradient, we suggest a regional water vapour feedback triggers temperature anomalies as a function of ENSO-related changes in regional pressure systems, Pacific sea surface temperature and tropical moisture input. Tapado glacier ice proxies are found to be predominantly connected to eastern Andean summer rain climate, which contradicts previous studies and the modern mean spatial boundary between subtropical summer and winter rain climate derived from the grid data. The only ice core proxy showing a response to ENSO is the major ion concentrations, via local temperature indicating reduced sublimation and mineral dust input during El Niño years.
How to cite. Dietze, E., Kleber, A., and Schwikowski, M.: Response of regional climate and glacier ice proxies to El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the subtropical Andes, Clim. Past Discuss., 4, 173–211, https://doi.org/10.5194/cpd-4-173-2008, 2008.