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International Journal of Climatology

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Earth temperature -- Mathematical models, Earth temperature -- South America, Precipitation (Meteorology) -- South America, Weather -- Effect of human beings on


Trends in near-surface air temperature and precipitation over South America are examined for the periods 1975–2004 and 1955–2004, respectively, using multiple observational and climate model data sets. The results for observed near-surface air temperature show an overall warming trend over much of the continent, with the largest magnitudes over central Brazil. These observed trends are found to be statistically significant using pre-industrial control simulations from the fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) as the baseline to estimate natural climate variability. The observed trends are compared with those obtained in natural-only CMIP5 simulations, in which only natural forcings (i.e. volcanoes and solar variability) are included, and in historical CMIP5 simulations, in which anthropogenic forcings (i.e. changes in the atmospheric composition) are further incorporated. The historical CMIP5 simulations are more successful in capturing the observed temperature trends than the simulations with natural forcings only. It is suggested that anthropogenic warming is already evident over much of South America. Unlike the warming trends, observed precipitation trends over South America are less spatially coherent with both negative and positive values across the continent. Significant positive trends are found over South America in only one of the data sets used, and over a region that roughly encompasses the southern part of La Plata Basin (southern Brazil, Uruguay, and northeastern Argentina) in all data sets used. The historical CMIP5 simulations do not capture this feature. No firm conclusions are reached, therefore, for anthropogenic influences on precipitation changes in the period selected for study.


© 2016 Royal Meteorological Society.

This work was authored as part of the Contributor's official duties as an Employee of the United States Government and is therefore a work of the United States Government. In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 105, no copyright protection is available for such works under U.S. Law.



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