Climate Dynamics

, Volume 51, Issue 5–6, pp 1901–1914 | Cite as

Observed warming over northern South America has an anthropogenic origin

  • Armineh BarkhordarianEmail author
  • Hans von Storch
  • Eduardo Zorita
  • Paul C. Loikith
  • Carlos R. Mechoso


We investigate whether the recently observed trends in daily maximum and minimum near-surface air temperature (Tmax and Tmin, respectively) over South America (SA) are consistent with the simulated response of Tmin and Tmax to anthropogenic forcing. Results indicate that the recently observed warming in the dry seasons is well beyond the range of natural (internal) variability. In the wet season the natural modes of variability explain a substantial portion of Tmin and Tmax variability. We demonstrate that the large-scale component of greenhouse gas (GHG) forcing is detectable in dry-seasonal warming. However, none of the global and regional climate change projections reproduce the observed warming of up to 0.6 K/Decade in Tmax in 1983–2012 over northern SA during the austral spring (SON). Thus, besides the global manifestation of GHG forcing, other external drivers have an imprint. Using aerosols-only forcing simulations, our results provide evidence that anthropogenic aerosols also have a detectable influence in SON and that the indirect effect of aerosols on cloud’s lifetime is more compatible with the observed record. In addition, there is an increasing trend in the observed incoming solar radiation over northern SA in SON, which is larger than expected from natural (internal) variability alone. We further show that in the dry seasons the spread of projected trends based on the RCP4.5 scenario derived from 30 CMIP5 models encompasses the observed area-averaged trends in Tmin and Tmax. This may imply that the observed excessive warming in the dry seasons serve as an illustration of plausible future expected change in the region.



We acknowledge the support provided by the US National Science Foundation AGS-1547899. We further acknowledge the Cluster of Excellence ‘CliSAP’ (EXC177), Universität Hamburg, funded through the German Science Foundation (DFG). Data used in this paper are available from the corresponding author ( upon request.

Supplementary material

382_2017_3988_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (3 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 3065 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic SciencesUniversity of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)Los AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Jet Propulsion LaboratoryCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA
  3. 3.Institute of Coastal ResearchHelmholtz-Zentrum GeesthachtGeesthachtGermany
  4. 4.Department of GeographyPortland State UniversityPortlandUSA

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