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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 03 Jul 2019

Submitted as: research article | 03 Jul 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

South Pacific Subtropical High from the late Holocene to the end of the 21st century: insights from climate proxies and general circulation models

Valentina Flores-Aqueveque1,3, Maisa Rojas2,3,4, Catalina Aguirre4,5,6, Paola A. Arias7, and Charles González1 Valentina Flores-Aqueveque et al.
  • 1Departamento de Geología, Facultad de Ciencias Físicas y Matemáticas, Universidad de Chile, Plaza Ercilla 803, Santiago, Chile
  • 2Departamento de Geofísica, Facultad de Ciencias Físicas y Matemáticas, Universidad de Chile, Blanco Encalada 2002, Santiago, Chile
  • 3Millennium Nucleifor Paleoclimate
  • 4Centro de Ciencia del Clima y la Resiliencia (CR2)
  • 5Escuela de Ingeniería Civil Oceánica, Facultad de Ingeniería, Universidad de Valparaíso, Chile
  • 6Centro de Observación Marino para estudios de Riesgos del Ambiente Costero (COSTA-R)
  • 7Grupo de Ingeniería y Gestión Ambiental (GIGA), Escuela Ambiental, Facultad de Ingeniería, Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia

Abstract. The South Pacific Subtropical High (SPSH) is a predominant feature of South American climate. The variability of this high-pressure center induces changes in the intensity of coastal alongshore winds and precipitation, among others, over southwestern South America. In recent decades, a strengthening and expansion of the SPSH have been observed and attributed to the current global warming. These changes have led an intensification of the southerly winds along the coast of northern to central Chile, and a decrease in precipitation from central to southern Chile. Motivated by improving our understanding about the regional impacts of climate change in this part of the Southern Hemisphere, we analyze SPSH changes during the two most extreme climate events of the last millennium: the Little Ice Age (LIA) and the Current Warm Period (CWP: 1970–2000), based on paleoclimate records and CMIP5/PMIP3 model simulations. In order to assess the level of agreement of general circulation models, we also compare them with ERA-Interim reanalysis data for the 1979–2009 period as a complementary analysis. Finally, with the aim of evaluating future SPSH behaviour, we include 21th century projections under a RCP8.5 scenario in our analyses. Our results indicate that during the relative warm (cold) period, the SPSH expands (contracts). Together with this change, alongshore winds intensify (weaken) south (north) of ~ 35º S; also, Southern Westerly Winds become stronger (weaker) and shift southward (northward). Model results generally underestimate reanalysis data. These changes are in good agreement with paleoclimate records, which suggest that these variations could be related to tropical climate dynamics but also to extratropical phenomena. However, although models adequately represent most of the South American climate changes, they fail in representing the Intertropical Convergence Zone - Hadley Cell system dynamics. Climate model projections indicate that changes recently observed will continue during next decades, highlighting the need to establish effective mitigation and adaptation strategies against their environmental and socio-economic impacts.

Valentina Flores-Aqueveque et al.
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Valentina Flores-Aqueveque et al.
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