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Geophysical Research Letters

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A decline in dry season precipitation over tropical South America has a large impact on ecosystem health of the region. Results here indicate that the magnitude of negative trends in dry season precipitation in the past decades exceeds the estimated range of trends due to natural variability of the climate system defined in both the preindustrial climate and during the 850–1850 millennium. The observed drying is associated with an increase in vapor pressure deficit. The univariate detection analysis shows that greenhouse gas (GHG) forcing has a systematic influence in negative 30-year trends of precipitation ending in 1998 and later on. The bivariate attribution analysis demonstrates that forcing by elevated GHG levels and land-use change are attributed as key causes for the observed drying during 1983–2012 over the southern Amazonia and central Brazil. We further show that the effect of GS signal (GHG and sulfate aerosols) based on RCP4.5 scenario already has a detectable influence in the observed drying. Thus, we suggest that the recently observed “drier dry season” is a feature which will continue and intensify in the course of unfolding anthropogenic climate change. Such change could have profound societal and ecosystem impacts over the region.


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