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Climate Dynamics

, Volume 40, Issue 7–8, pp 1569–1589 | Cite as

Impact of projected SST changes on summer rainfall in southeastern South America

  • C. JunquasEmail author
  • C. S. Vera
  • L. Li
  • H. Le Treut
Article

Abstract

Recent studies have shown that global warming and associated sea-surface temperature (SST) changes may trigger an important rainfall increase in southeastern South America (SESA) during the austral summer (December–January–February, DJF). The goal of this paper is to provide some insight into processes which may link global and SESA changes. For this purpose, a “two-way nesting” system coupling interactively the regional and global versions of the LMDZ4 atmospheric model is used to study the response to prescribed SST changes. The regional model is a variable-grid version of the global model, with a zoom focused over South America. An ensemble of simulations forced by distinct patterns of DJF SST changes has been carried out using a decomposition of full SST changes into their longitudinal and latitudinal components. The full SST changes are based on projections for the end of the twenty-first century from a multi-model ensemble of WCRP/CMIP3. Results confirm the presence of a major rainfall dipole structure, characterized by an increase in SESA and a decrease in the South Atlantic Convergence Zone region. Rainfall changes found in the WCRP/CMIP3 models are largely explained as a response of this dipole structure to the zonally-asymmetric (or longitudinal) component of SST changes. The rainfall response to the zonal-mean (or latitudinal) SST changes (including the global warming signal itself) shows an opposite contribution. The processes explaining the role of zonally-asymmetric SST changes involve remote effects of SST warming over the equatorial Indian and Pacific oceans inducing an atmospheric wave-train extended across the South Pacific into South America.

Keywords

South America climate Rainfall changes Two-way nesting system Sea surface temperature projections Climate change 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Comments and suggestions provided by three anonymous reviewers were very helpful in improving this paper. We acknowledge the international modeling groups for providing their data for analysis, the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) for collecting and archiving the model data, the JSC/CLIVAR Working Group on Coupled Modeling (WGCM) and their Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) and Climate Simulation Panel for organizing the model data analysis activity, and the IPCC WG1 TSU for technical support. The IPCC Data Archive at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science, U.S. Department of Energy. This research was supported by the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under Grant Agreement N° 212492 (CLARIS LPB. A Europe-South America Network for Climate Change Assessment and Impact Studies in La Plata Basin), CNRS/LEFE Program, and CONICET PIP 112-200801-00399. The first author C.J. is supported by a Ph.D grant from the Ecole Polytechnique.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire de Météorologie DynamiqueInstitut Pierre Simon Laplace, UPMC/CNRSParisFrance
  2. 2.Centro de Investigaciones Del Mar y la Atmosfera (CIMA/CONICET-UBA), DCAO/FCENUMI IFAECI/CNRSBuenos AiresArgentina

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