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Tree-ring reconstructed dry season rainfall in Guatemala

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Abstract

Drought in Guatemala has negative consequences for agriculture and potable water supplies, particularly in regions of the country with highly seasonal rainfall. General circulation models suggest that a decrease in both winter and summer rainfall over Central America is likely and imminent as a consequence of anthropogenic influences on the climate system. However, precipitation observations over the last several decades are equivocal. Here, we use an Abies guatemalensis tree-ring chronology from the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes to estimate January through March rainfall since the late seventeenth century. Our reconstruction shows that recent winter–spring rainfall from the region is not yet exceptional in the context of the last several centuries, has a significant yet variable decadal component, is associated with large-scale modes of ocean–atmosphere variability, and reveals evidence of past multiyear droughts.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to the communities of La Ventosa, Todos Santos, and Puerta al Cielo for their valuable assistance in locating and sampling trees in the Cuchumatanes. We thank Geronimo Ramirez and his family for their continued help and enthusiasm. Gary Lavanchy, Eliot Andre, Krissy Scommegna, and Shannon Sullivan also provided additional field assistance. Daniel Griffin provided valuable feedback and insights. We are extremely grateful to Pauline Décamps and Fernando Mejía of the Unicornio Azul for their generous hospitality and support in Guatemala. We thank two anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions. This research was funded by grants from the US National Science Foundation (BCS 0852652 and BCS 1263609), with additional support from Columbia University’s Climate Center and a LASPAU Climate Change Fellowship to Diego Pons from the United States Department of State.

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Anchukaitis, K.J., Taylor, M.J., Leland, C. et al. Tree-ring reconstructed dry season rainfall in Guatemala. Clim Dyn 45, 1537–1546 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-014-2407-y

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