Climatic Change

, Volume 26, Issue 2–3, pp 183–197

Tree-ring and glacial evidence for the medieval warm epoch and the little ice age in southern South America

  • Ricardo Villalba
Article

Abstract

A tree-ring reconstruction of summer temperatures from northern Patagonia shows distinct episodes of higher and lower temperature during the last 1000 yr. The first cold interval was from A.D. 900 to 1070, which was followed by a warm period A.D. 1080 to 1250 (approximately coincident with theMedieval Warm Epoch). Afterwards a long, cold-moist interval followed from A.D. 1270 to 1660, peaking around 1340 and 1640 (contemporaneously with earlyLittle Ice Age events in the Northern Hemisphere). In central Chile, winter rainfall variations were reconstructed using tree rings back to the year A.D. 1220. From A.D. 1220 to 1280, and from A.D. 1450 to 1550, rainfall was above the long-term mean. Droughts apparently occurred between A.D. 1280 and 1450, from 1570 to 1650, and from 1770 to 1820. In northern Patagonia, radiocarbon dates and tree-ring dates record two major glacial advances in the A.D. 1270–1380 and 1520–1670 intervals. In southern Patagonia, the initiation of theLittle Ice Age appears to have been around A.D. 1300, and the culmination of glacial advances between the late 17th to the early 19th centuries.

Most of the reconstructed winter-dry periods in central Chile are synchronous with cold summers in northern Patagonia, resembling the present regional patterns associated with the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The years A.D. 1468–69 represent, in both temperature and precipitation reconstructions from treerings, the largest departures during the last 1000 yr. A very strong ENSO event was probably responsible for these extreme deviations. Tree-ring analysis also indicates that the association between a weaker southeastern Pacific subtropical anticyclone and the occurence of El Niño events has been stable over the last four centuries, although some anomalous cases are recognized.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Aceituno, P.: 1988, ‘On the Functioning of the Southern Oscillation in the South American Sector. Part I: Surface Climate’,Mon. Wea. Rev. 116, 505–524.Google Scholar
  2. Aceituno, P. and Montecinos, A.: 1992, ‘Análisis de la Estabilidad de la Relación entre la Oscilación Sur y la Precipitación en América del Sur’, Ortlieb, L. and Macharé, J. (eds.),Paleo ENSO Records Intern. Symp. Extended Abstracts, ORSTOM-CONCYTEC, Lima, pp. 7–13.Google Scholar
  3. Boninsegna, J. A.: 1988, ‘Santiago de Chile Winter Rainfall since 1220 as Being Reconstructed by Tree Rings’,Quatern. South Amer. Antarct. Penins. 6, 67–87.Google Scholar
  4. Clapperton, C. M.: 1983, ‘The Glaciation of the Andes’,Quatern. Sci. Rev. 2, 83–155.Google Scholar
  5. COHMAP members: 1988, ‘Climatic Changes of the last 18,000 Years: Observations and Model Simulations’,Science 241, 1043–1052.Google Scholar
  6. Cook, E., Bird, T., Peterson, M., Barbetti, M., Buckley, B., D'Arrigo, R., Francey, R., and Tans, P.: 1991, ‘Climatic Change in Tasmania Inferred from a 1089-Year Tree-Ring Chronology of Huon Pine’,Science 253, 1266–1268.Google Scholar
  7. Deser, C. and Wallace, J. M.: 1987, ‘El Niño Events and Their Relation to the Southern Oscillation: 1925–1986’,J. Geophys. Res. 92, 14189–14196.Google Scholar
  8. Grove, J. M.: 1988,The Little Ice Age, Routledge, London.Google Scholar
  9. Fritts, H. C.: 1976,Tree Rings and Climate, Academic Press, London.Google Scholar
  10. Hocquenghem, A. M. and Ortlieb, L.: 1992, ‘Historical Record of El Niño Events in Perú (XVI-XVIIIth Centuries): The Quinnet al. (1987) Chronology Revisited’, in Ortlieb, L. and Macharé, J. (eds.),Paleo ENSO Records, Extended Abstracts, ORSTOM-CONCYTEC, Lima, pp. 143–149.Google Scholar
  11. Karoly, D. J.: 1989, ‘Southern Hemisphere Circulation Features Associated with El Niño-Southern Oscillation Events’,J. Clim. 2, 1239–1252.Google Scholar
  12. Kiladis, G. N. and Diaz, H. F.: 1989, ‘Global Climatic Anomalies with Extremes in the Southern Oscillation’,J. Clim. 2, 1069–1090.Google Scholar
  13. Lamb, H. H.: 1977,Climate: Present, Past and Future, Vol. 2, Methuen, London.Google Scholar
  14. Leiva, J. C., Lenzano, L. E., Cabrera, G. A., and Suarez, J. A.: 1989, ‘Variations of Río Plomo Glaciers, Andes Centrales Argentinos’, in Oerlemans, J. (eds.),Glacier Fluctuations and Climatic Change, Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp. 143-151.Google Scholar
  15. Mercer, J. H.: 1968, ‘Variations of Some Patagonian Glaciers since the Late-Glacial: I.’,Amer. J. Sci. 266, 91–109.Google Scholar
  16. Mercer, J. H.: 1970, ‘Variations of Some Patagonian Glaciers since the Late-Glacial: II.’,Amer. J. Sci. 269, 1–25.Google Scholar
  17. Minetti, J. L. and Sierra, E. M.; 1989, ‘The Influence of General Circulation Patterns on Humid and Dry Years in the Cuyo Andean Region of Argentina’,Intern. J. Climatol. 9, 55–68.Google Scholar
  18. Pittock, A. B.: 1980, ‘Patterns of Climatic Variation in Argentina and Chile. I. Precipitation, 1931–1960’,Mon. Wea. Rev. 108, 1347–1361.Google Scholar
  19. Politis, G. C.: 1984, ‘Climatic Variations during Historical Times in Eastern Buenos Aires Pampas, Argentina’,Quatern. South Amer. Antarc. Penins. 2, 133–162.Google Scholar
  20. Quinn, W. H. and Neal, V. T.: 1992, ‘The Historical Record of El Niño events’, in Bradley, R. S. and Jones, P. D. (eds.),Climate since A. D. 1500, Routledge, London, pp. 623–648.Google Scholar
  21. Quinn, W. H., Neal, V. T., and Antunez de mayolo, S. E.: 1987, ‘El Niño Occurrences over the Past Four and a Half Centuries’,J. Geophys. Res. 92, 14449–14461.Google Scholar
  22. Rabassa, J. and Clapperton, C. M.: 1990, ‘Quaternary Glaciations of the Southern Andes’,Quatern. Sci. Rev. 2, 153–174.Google Scholar
  23. Ropelewski, C. F. and Halpert, M. S.: 1987, ‘Global and Regional Scale Precipitation Patterns Associated with the El Niño/Southern Oscillation’,Mon. Wea. Rev. 115, 1606–1626.Google Scholar
  24. Röthlisberger, F.: 1986,1000 Jahre Glestschergerchichte der Erde, Salzburg: Verlag Sauerlander.Google Scholar
  25. Rubin, M. J.: 1955, ‘An Analysis of Pressure Anomalies in the Southern Hemisphere’,Notos 4, 11–16.Google Scholar
  26. Rutlland, J., and Fuenzalida, H.: 1991, ‘Synoptic aspects of the central Chile rainfall variability associated with the Southern Oscillation’,International Journal of Climatology 11, 63–76.Google Scholar
  27. Stuiver, M. and Becker, B.: 1986, ‘High-Precision Decadal Calibration of the Radiocarbon Time Scale, A.D. 1950–2500 BC’,Radiocarbon 28, 863–910.Google Scholar
  28. Taljard, J. J.: 1972, ‘Synoptic Meteorology of the Southern Hemisphere’,Meteorol. Monogr. 13, 139–213.Google Scholar
  29. Taulis, E.: 1934, ‘De la Distribution des Pluies au Chile’,Materoux pour l'Etude des Calamites, Part 1, Societe de Geographie de Geneve, pp. 3-20.Google Scholar
  30. Van der Hammen, T.: 1991, ‘Palaeoecological Background: Neotropics’,Clim. Change 19, 37–47.Google Scholar
  31. Villalba, R.: 1990a, ‘Climatic Fluctuations in Northern Patagonia in the Last 1000 Years as Inferred from Tree-Ring Records’,Quatern. Res. 34, 346–360.Google Scholar
  32. Villalba, R.: 1990b, ‘Latitude of the Surface High-Pressure Belt over Western South America during the Last 500 Years as Inferred from Tree-Ring Analysis’,Quatern. South Amer. Antarct. Penins. 7, 273–303.Google Scholar
  33. Villalba, R., Leiva, J. C., Rubulis, S., Suarez, J. A., and Lenzano, L.: 1990, ‘Climate, Tree-Ring and Glacial Fluctuations in the Río Frías Valley, Río Negro, Argentina’,Arc. Alp. Res. 22, 215–232.Google Scholar
  34. Williams, L. D. and Wigley, T. M. L.: 1983, ‘Comparison of Evidence for Late Holocene Summer Temperature Variations in the Northern Hemisphere’,Quatern. Res. 20, 286–307.Google Scholar
  35. Wells, L. E.: 1987, ‘An Alluvial Record of El Niño Events from Northern Coastal Perú’,J. Geophys. Res. 92, 14463–14470.Google Scholar
  36. Wells, L. E.: 1990, ‘Holocene History of the El Niño Phenomenon as Recorded in Flood Sediments of Northern Coastal Perú’,Geology 18, 1134–1137.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ricardo Villalba
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  2. 2.Laboratorio de DendrocronologiaCRICYT - CONICETMendozaArgentina

Personalised recommendations