Future hydroclimatological changes in South America based on an ensemble of regional climate models

  • Pablo G. Zaninelli
  • Claudio G. Menéndez
  • Magdalena Falco
  • Noelia López-Franca
  • Andrea F. Carril


Changes between two time slices (1961–1990 and 2071–2100) in hydroclimatological conditions for South America have been examined using an ensemble of regional climate models. Annual mean precipitation (P), evapotranspiration (E) and potential evapotranspiration (EP) are jointly considered through the balances of land water and energy. Drying or wetting conditions, associated with changes in land water availability and atmospheric demand, are analysed in the Budyko space. The water supply limit (E limited by P) is exceeded at about 2% of the grid points, while the energy limit to evapotranspiration (E = EP) is overall valid. Most of the continent, except for the southeast and some coastal areas, presents a shift toward drier conditions related to a decrease in water availability (the evaporation rate E/P increases) and, mostly over much of Brazil, to an increase in the aridity index (Ф = EP/P). These changes suggest less humid conditions with decreasing surface runoff over Amazonia and the Brazilian Highlands. In contrast, Argentina and the coasts of Ecuador and Peru are characterized by a tendency toward wetter conditions associated with an increase of water availability and a decrease of aridity index, primarily due to P increasing faster than both E and EP. This trend towards wetter soil conditions suggest that the chances of having larger periods of flooding and enhanced river discharges would increase over parts of southeastern South America. Interannual variability increases with Ф (for a given time slice) and with climate change (for a given aridity regimen). There are opposite interannual variability responses to the cliamte change in Argentina and Brazil by which the variability increases over the Brazilian Highlands and decreases in central-eastern Argentina.


Hydroclimate of South America Climate change Budyko space Aridity index Regional climate models 



This research was supported by projects PICT 2014-0887 (ANPCyT, Argentina), PIP 112-201501-00402CO (CONICET, Argentina), PICT2015-3097 (ANPCyT, Argentina) and LEFE (AO2015-876370, France). We thank E.H. Berbery, R. Ruscica and A. Sörensson for their comments on the manuscript. Figures 4 and 5 were made with R package “ggplot2” (Wickham 2009).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have not conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pablo G. Zaninelli
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Claudio G. Menéndez
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Magdalena Falco
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Noelia López-Franca
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Andrea F. Carril
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y NaturalesUniversidad de Buenos AiresBuenos AiresArgentina
  2. 2.Centro de Investigaciones del Mar y la Atmósfera (CIMA/CONICET-UBA)CONICET, Universidad de Buenos AiresBuenos AiresArgentina
  3. 3.Instituto Franco-Argentino sobre Estudios de Clima y sus Impactos (UMI3351-IFAECI/CNRS-CONICET-UBA)Buenos AiresArgentina
  4. 4.Facultad de Ciencias Astronómicas y GeofísicasUniversidad Nacional de La PlataBuenos AiresArgentina

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