Thursday, 27 January 2011: 4:00 PM
608 (Washington State Convention Center)
Rainfall variability over the Amazon basin has often been linked to variations in Pacific sea surface temperature (SST), and in particular, to the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). However, only a fraction of Amazon rainfall variability can be explained by ENSO. Building upon the recent work of Zeng (Environ Res Lett 3:014002, 2008), here we provide further evidence for an influence on Amazon rainfall from the tropical Atlantic Ocean. The strength of the North Atlantic influence is found to be comparable to the better-known Pacific ENSO connection. The tropical South Atlantic Ocean also shows some influence during the wet-to-dry season transition period. The Atlantic influence is through changes in the north-south divergent circulation and the movement of the ITCZ following warm SST. Therefore, it is strongest in the southern part of the Amazon basin during the Amazon's dry season (JulyOctober). In contrast, the ENSO related teleconnection is through anomalous east-west Walker circulation with largely concentrated in the eastern (lower) Amazon. This ENSO connection is seasonally locked to boreal winter. A complication due to the influence of ENSO on Atlantic SST causes an apparent North Atlantic SST lag of Amazon rainfall. Removing ENSO from North Atlantic SST via linear regression resolves this causality problem in that the residual Atlantic variability correlates well and is in phase with the Amazon rainfall. A strong Atlantic influence during boreal summer and autumn is particularly significant in terms of the impact on the hydro-ecosystem which is most vulnerable during the dry season, as highlighted by the severe 2005 Amazon drought. Such findings have implications for both seasonal-interannual climate prediction and understanding the longer-term changes of the Amazon rainforest.
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