Climate Dynamics

, Volume 41, Issue 7–8, pp 1983–2002 | Cite as

Revisiting wintertime cold air intrusions at the east of the Andes: propagating features from subtropical Argentina to Peruvian Amazon and relationship with large-scale circulation patterns

  • Jhan Carlo Espinoza
  • Josyane Ronchail
  • Matthieu Lengaigne
  • Nelson Quispe
  • Yamina Silva
  • Maria Laura Bettolli
  • Grinia Avalos
  • Alan Llacza


This study investigates the spatial and temporal characteristics of cold surges that propagates northward along the eastern flank of the Andes from subtropical to tropical South America analysing wintertime in situ daily minimum temperature observations from Argentina, Bolivia and Peru and ERA-40 reanalysis over the 1975–2001 period. Cold surges usually last 2 or 3 days but are generally less persistent in the southern La Plata basin compared to tropical regions. On average, three to four cold surges are reported each year. Our analysis reveals that 52 % of cold episodes registered in the south of La Plata basin propagate northward to the northern Peruvian Amazon at a speed of around 20 m s−1. In comparison to cold surges that do not reach the tropical region, we demonstrate that these cold surges are characterized, before they reach the tropical region, by a higher occurrence of a specific circulation pattern associated to southern low-level winds progression toward low latitudes combined with subsidence and dry condition in the middle and low troposphere that reinforce the cold episode through a radiative effect. Finally, the relationship between cold surges and atmosphere dynamics is illustrated for the two most severe cold intrusions that reached the Peruvian and Bolivian Amazon in the last 20 years.


Peruvian Amazon Bolivian Amazon Argentina Cold surges Low-level winds Circulation patterns Self-organizing maps 



The authors are grateful to the Meteorological Services from Peru (SENAMHI), Bolivia (SENAMHI) and Argentina (SMN) for the data availability. The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under Grant Agreement No. 212492: CLARIS LPB. A Europe-South America Network for Climate Change Assessment and Impact Studies in La Plata Basin.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jhan Carlo Espinoza
    • 1
  • Josyane Ronchail
    • 2
  • Matthieu Lengaigne
    • 3
  • Nelson Quispe
    • 4
  • Yamina Silva
    • 1
  • Maria Laura Bettolli
    • 5
  • Grinia Avalos
    • 4
  • Alan Llacza
    • 4
  1. 1.Instituto Geofísico del Perú (IGP)Lima 03Peru
  2. 2.Sorbonne Paris Cité and Laboratoire d’Océanographie et de Climat: Expérimentation et Approches Numériques (LOCEAN)Univ Paris DiderotParisFrance
  3. 3.Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) and LOCEANParisFrance
  4. 4.Servicio Nacional de Meteorología e Hidrología (SENAMHI)LimaPeru
  5. 5.Departamento de Ciencias de la Atmósfera y los Océanos (FCEN)Universidad de Buenos AiresBuenos AiresArgentina

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