, Volume 78, Issue 1-3, pp 79-96
Date: 27 Apr 2004

Interdecadal variability and trends of rainfall across the Amazon basin

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Summary

An analysis of decadal and long-term patterns of rainfall has been carried out using a combination of raingauge and gridded rainfall datasets, for the entire Amazon basin and for its northern and southern sub-basins. The study covers the period 1929–98. Rainfall variability and variations in circulation and sea surface temperature fields have been analysed in more detail for the period 1950–98. Negative rainfall trends were identified for the entire Amazon basin, while at the regional level there is a negative trend in northern Amazonia and positive trend in southern Amazonia. Decadal time scale variations in rainfall have been discovered, with periods of relatively drier and wetter conditions, with different behaviour in northern and southern Amazonia. Spectral analyses show decadal time scale variations in southern Amazonia, while northern Amazonia exhibits both interannual and decadal scale variations. Shifts in the rainfall regime in both sections of the Amazon basin were identified as occurring in the mid-1940s and 1970s. After 1975–76, northern Amazonia received less rainfall than before 1975. Changes in the circulation and oceanic fields after 1975 suggest an important role of the warming of the tropical central and eastern Pacific on the decreasing rainfall in northern Amazonia, due to more frequent and intense El Niño events during the relatively dry period 1975–98.