Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 129, Issue 1–2, pp 97–109 | Cite as

Climatic variability of river outflow in the Pantanal region and the influence of sea surface temperature

  • Carlos Batista SilvaEmail author
  • Maria Elisa Siqueira SilvaEmail author
  • Tércio AmbrizziEmail author
Original Paper


This paper investigates possible linear relationships between climate, hydrology, and oceanic surface variability in the Pantanal region (in South America’s central area), over interannual and interdecadal time ranges. In order to verify the mentioned relations, lagged correlation analysis and linear adjustment between river discharge at the Pantanal region and sea surface temperature were used. Composite analysis for atmospheric fields, air humidity flux divergence, and atmospheric circulation at low and high levels, for the period between 1970 and 2003, was analyzed. Results suggest that the river discharge in the Pantanal region is linearly associated with interdecadal and interannual oscillations in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, making them good predictors to continental hydrological variables. Considering oceanic areas, 51 % of the annual discharge in the Pantanal region can be linearly explained by mean sea surface temperature (SST) in the Subtropical North Pacific, Tropical North Pacific, Extratropical South Pacific, and Extratropical North Atlantic over the period. Considering a forecast approach in seasonal scale, 66 % of the monthly discharge variance in Pantanal, 3 months ahead of SST, is explained by the oceanic variables, providing accuracy around 65 %. Annual discharge values in the Pantanal region are strongly related to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) variability (with 52 % of linear correlation), making it possible to consider an interdecadal variability and a consequent subdivision of the whole period in three parts: 1st (1970–1977), 2nd (1978–1996), and 3rd (1997–2003) subperiods. The three subperiods coincide with distinct PDO phases: negative, positive, and negative, respectively. Convergence of humidity flux at low levels and the circulation pattern at high levels help to explain the drier and wetter subperiods. During the wetter 2nd subperiod, the air humidity convergence at low levels is much more evident than during the other two drier subperiods, which mostly show air humidity divergence. While the drier periods are particularly characterized by the strengthening of northerly wind over the center of South America, including the Pantanal region, the wetter period is characterized by its weakening. The circulation pattern at 850 hPa levels during the drier subperiods shows anticyclonic anomalies centered over east central South America. Also, the drier subperiods (1st and 3rd) are characterized by negative stream function anomalies over southeastern South America and adjacent South Atlantic, and the wetter subperiod is characterized by positive stream function anomalies. In the three subperiods, one can see mean atmospheric patterns associated with Rossby wave propagation coming from the South Pacific basin—similar to the Pacific South America pattern, but with reverse signals between the wetter and the drier periods. This result suggests a possible relationship between climatic patterns over southeastern South America regions and the Pacific conditions in a decadal scale.


River Discharge Pacific Decadal Oscillation Anticyclonic Anomaly South America Tropical North Atlantic 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We greatly thank the suggestions and questions raised by the reviewers that helped to improve this study. The first two authors thank Carla Possati (FFLCH/USP), Krishna Mohan (Université Pierre et Marie Curie), and David Correa (Instituto del Mar del Peru) for assistance with GrADS and Matlab and Kevin Keay (University of Melbourne/Australia). T.A. had a partial support from CNPq, ITV (Vale Institute of Technology) and FAPESP (Proc. No. 08/58101-9).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography, College of Philosophy, Letters and Human SciencesUniversity of São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  2. 2.Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Institute of Astronomy, Geophysics and Atmospheric SciencesUniversity of São PauloSão PauloBrazil

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