Persistent drying in the tropics linked to natural forcing

Amos Winter, Davide Zanchettin, Thomas Miller, Yochanan Kushnir, David Black, Gerrit Lohmann, Allison Burnett, Gerald H. Haug, Juan Estrella-Martinez, Sebastian Breitenbach, Luc Beaufort, Angelo Rubino, Hai Cheng

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18 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Approximately half of the world's population lives in the tropics, and future changes in the hydrological cycle will impact not just the freshwater supplies but also energy production in areas dependent upon hydroelectric power. It is vital that we understand the mechanisms/processes that affect tropical precipitation and the eventual surface hydrological response to better assess projected future regional precipitation trends and variability. Paleo-climate proxies are well suited for this purpose as they provide long time series that pre-date and complement the present, often short instrumental observations. Here we present paleo-precipitation data from a speleothem located in Mesoamerica that reveal large multi-decadal declines in regional precipitation, whose onset coincides with clusters of large volcanic eruptions during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This reconstruction provides new independent evidence of long-lasting volcanic effects on climate and elucidates key aspects of the causal chain of physical processes determining the tropical climate response to global radiative forcing.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7627
Number of pages8
JournalNature Communications
Volume6
Issue number1
Early online date14 Jul 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes

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