1Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research and Institute of Geography, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
2Renard Centre of Marine Geology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
3Centro de Ciencias Ambientales EULA-Chile, Universidad de Concepción, Concepción, Chile
Abstract. High-resolution records of calibrated proxy data for the past 2000 yr are fundamental to place current changes into the context of pre-industrial natural forced and unforced variability. Although the need for regional spatially explicit comprehensive reconstructions is widely recognized, the proxy data sources are still scarce, particularly for the Southern Hemisphere and South America.
We provide a 1500 yr long warm season temperature record from varved Lago Plomo, a proglacial lake of the Northern Patagonian Ice field in southern Chile (46°59' S, 72°52' W, 203 m). The thickness of the bright summer sediment layer relative to the dark winter layer (measured as total brightness; % reflectance 400–730 nm) is calibrated against warm season SONDJF temperature (1900–2009; r = 0.58, p(aut) = 0.056, RE = 0.52; CE = 0.15, RMSEP = 0.28 °C; five-year triangular filtered data). In Lago Plomo, warm summer temperatures lead to enhanced glacier melt and suspended sediment transport, which results in a thicker light summer layer and to brighter sediments (% total brightness). Although Patagonia shows pronounced regional differences in decadal temperature trends and variability, the 1500 yr temperature reconstruction from Lago Plomo compares favourably with other regional/continental temperature records but also emphasizes significant regional differences for which no data and information existed so far. The reconstruction shows pronounced sub-decadal–multi-decadal variability with cold phases in the 5th, 7th and 9th centuries, during parts of the Little Ice Age chronozone (16th and 18th centuries) and in the beginning of the 20th century. The most prominent warm phase is the 19th century which is as warm as the second half of the 20th century, emphasizing a delayed recent global warming in the Southern Hemisphere.
The comparison between winter precipitation and summer temperature (inter-seasonal coupling) from Lago Plomo reveals alternating phases with parallel and contrasting decadal trends of winter precipitation and summer temperature and positive and negative running correlations(winterPP;summerTT). In the 20th century the trend of this correlation changes at 1920, 1945 and 1975 AD, and the phases with positive (negative) correlations inferred from the lake sediments are also found as a regional robust pattern in reanalysis data, and coincide with the changes of the instrumental PDO index. Enhanced circumpolar flow around 60° S is proposed for positive phases of PDO which leads to the reversed coupling and contrasting decadal trends of winter precipitation and summer temperature during PDO positive phases. Our reconstruction of the inter-seasonal coupling back to 1530 AD reproduces many features of existing PDO reconstructions from the Pacific suggesting that Lago Plomo provides a record for the regional expression of the PDO in Patagonia.