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


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.


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



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.


  1. Allen MR, Ingram WJ et al (2002) Constraints on future changes in climate and the hydrologic cycle. Nature 419:224–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barreiro M, Tippmann A (2008) Atlantic modulation of el nino influence on summertime rainfall over southeastern south America. Geophys Res Lett 35:L16704. doi: 10.1029/2008GL035019 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barros V, Doyle M, Camilloni I (2008) Precipitation trends in southeastern south America: relationship with Enso phases and with low-level circulation. Theor Appl Clim 93:19–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cai W, Sullivan A, Cowan T, Ribbe J, Shi G (2011a) Simulation of the Indian Ocean dipole: a relevant criterion for selecting models for climate projections. Geophys Res Lett 38:L03704. doi: 10.1029/2010GL046242 Google Scholar
  5. Cai W, van Rensch P, Cowan T, Hendon HH (2011b) Teleconnection pathways of ENSO and the IOD and the mechanisms for impacts on Australian rainfall. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 24:3910–3923Google Scholar
  6. Chan SC, Behera SK, Yamagata T (2008) Indian Ocean dipole influence on South American rainfall. Geophys Res Lett 36:L14S12. doi: 10.1029/2008GL034204 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chen T, Weng S, Schubert S (1999) Maintenance of austral summertime uppertropospheric circulation over tropical south America: the bolivian high-nordeste low system. J Atmos Sci 56:2081–2100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chen W, Jiang Z, Li L, Yiou P (2011) Simulation of regional climate change under the IPCC A2 scenario in southeast China. Clim Dyn 36:491–507CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chou C, Neelin JD (2004) Mechanisms of global warming impacts on regional tropical precipitation. J Clim 17:2688–2701CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Christensen JH, Hewitson B, Busuioc A, Chen A, Gao X, Held I, Jones R, Kolli RK, Kwon W-T, Laprise R, Magaña Rueda V, Mearns L, Menéndez CG, Räisänen J, Rinke A, Sarr A, Whetton P (2007) Regional climate projections. In: Solomon S, Qin D, Manning M, Chen Z, Marquis M, Averyt KB, Tignor M, Miller HL (eds) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  11. Codron F, Sadourny R (2002) Saturation limiters for water vapour advection schemes: impact on orographic precipitation. Tellus A 54:338–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Collins M, An S, Cai W, Ganachaud A, Guilyardi E, Jin F, Jochum M, Lengaigne M, Power S, Timmermann A et al (2010) The impact of global warming on the tropical pacific ocean and el niño. Nat Geosci 3:391–397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Doyle M, Barros V (2002) Midsummer low-level circulation and precipitation in subtropical south America and related sea surface temperature anomalies in the south Atlantic. J Clim 15:3394–3410CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gastineau G, Le Treut H, Li L (2008) Hadley circulation changes under global warming conditions indicated by coupled climate models. Tellus A 60:863–884CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gastineau G, Li L, Le Treut H (2009) The hadley and walker circulation changes in global warming conditions described by idealized atmospheric simulations. J Clim 22:3993–4013CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gates WL (1992) AMIP: the atmospheric model intercomparison project. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 73:1962–1970CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Grimm A, Barros V, Doyle M (2000) Climate variability in southern south america associated with el niño and la niña events. J Clim 13:35–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hoffman J (1975) Maps of mean temperature and precipitation. Clim Atlas S Am 1:1–28Google Scholar
  19. Hourdin F, Musat I, Bony S, Braconnot P, Codron F, Dufresne J, Fairhead L, Filiberti M, Friedlingstein P, Grandpeix J (2006) The lmdz4 general circulation model: climate performance and sensitivity to parametrized physics with emphasis on tropical convection. Clim Dyn 27(7):787–813CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Huffman GJ, Bolvin DT, Adler RF (2011) GPCP version 2.2 combined precipitation data set. WDC-A, NCDC, Asheville, NC. Data set accessed at
  21. IPCC (2007) Summary for policymakers. In: Solomon S, Qin D, Manning M, Chen Z, Marquis M, Averyt KB, Tignor M, Miller HL (eds) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  22. Junquas C, Vera C, Li L, Le Treut H (2012) Summer precipitation variability over southeastern south America in a global warming scenario. Clim Dyn 38:1867–1883CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Krishnamurti T, Kanamitsu M, Koss W, Lee J (1973) Tropical east-west circulations during the northern winter. J Atmos Sci 30:780–787CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Labraga J, Frumento O, López M (2000) The atmospheric water vapor cycle in south America and the tropospheric circulation. J Clim 13:1899–1915CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Li Z (1999) Ensemble atmospheric GCM simulation of climate interannual variability from 1979 to 1994. J Clim 12:986–1001CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lorenz P, Jacob D (2005) Influence of regional scale information on the global circulation: a two-way nesting climate simulation. Geophys Res Lett 32:L18706. doi: 10.1029/2005GL023351 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lu J, Vecchi GA, Reichler T (2007) Expansion of the hadley cell under global warming. Geophys Res Lett 34:L06805. doi: 10.1029/2006GL028443 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Marengo J, Soares W, Saulo C, Nicolini M (2004) Climatology of the low-level jet east of the andes as derived from the NCEP-NCAR reanalyses: characteristics and temporal variability. J Clim 17:2261–2280Google Scholar
  29. Marti O et al (2005) The new IPSL climate system model: IPSL-CM4. Note du Pôle de Modélisation No. 26. Institut Pierre Simon Laplace des Sciences de l’Environnement Global, Paris.
  30. Paegle J, Mo K (2002) Linkages between summer rainfall variability over south America and sea surface temperature anomalies. J Clim 15:1389–1407CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Robertson A, Mechoso C (2000) Interannual and interdecadal variability of the south Atlantic convergence zone. Mon Weather Rev 128:2947–2957CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Saji NH, Goswami BN, Vinayachandran PN, Yamagata T (1999) A dipole mode in the tropical Indian Ocean. Nat 401:360–363Google Scholar
  33. Simmons A, Uppala S, Dee D, Kobayashi S (2006) Era-interim: new ecmwf reanalysis products from 1989 onwards. ecmwf, shinfield park. Reading, Berkshire RG2 9AX, UK, 25Google Scholar
  34. Sörensson A, Menéndez C, Samuelsson P, Willén U, Hansson U (2010) Soil-precipitation feedbacks during the South American monsoon as simulated by a regional climate model. Clim Change 98:429–447CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sugi M, Yoshimura J (2004) A mechanism of tropical precipitation change due to CO2 Increase. J Clim 17:238–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Takahashi K, Battisti DS (2007) Processes controlling the mean tropical Pacific precipitation pattern. Part I: the Andes and the eastern Pacific ITCZ. J Clim 20:3434–3451Google Scholar
  37. Tanaka H, Ishizaki N, Kitoh A (2004) Trend and interannual variability of walker, monsoon and hadley circulations defined by velocity potential in the upper troposphere. Tellus A 56:250–269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Vecchi G, Soden B (2007) Global warming and the weakening of the tropical circulation. J Clim 20:4316–4340CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Vecchi G, Soden B, Wittenberg A, Held I, Leetmaa A, Harrison M (2006) Weakening of tropical pacific atmospheric circulation due to anthropogenic forcing. Nat 441:73–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Vera C, Silvestri G, Barros V, Carril A (2004) Differences in el nino response over the southern hemisphere. J Clim 17:1741–1753CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Vera C, Higgins W, Amador J, Ambrizzi T, Garreaud R, Gochin D, Gutzler D, Lettenmaier D, Marengo J, Mechoso C, Nogues-Paegle J, Silva Diaz PL, Zhang C (2006a) Towards a unified view of the American monsoon system. J Clim 19:4977–5000CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Vera C, Silvestri G, Liebmann B, González P (2006b) Climate change scenarios for seasonal precipitation in south America. Geophys Res Lett 33:L13707. doi: 10.1029/2006GL025759 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wu R, Kirtman B (2007) Regimes of seasonal air–sea interaction and implications for performance of forced simulations. Clim Dyn 29:393–410CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Xie P, Arkin P (1997) Global precipitation: a 17-year monthly analysis based on gauge observations, satellite estimates, and numerical model outputs. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 78:2539–2558CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Xu H, Wang Y, Xie S-P (2004) Effects of the Andes on eastern Pacific climate: a regional atmospheric model study. J Clim 17(3):589–602Google Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations