Collaborative Research: Reconstructing South American monsoon sensitivity to internal and external forcing: reconciling models and tree-ring proxies in the Central Andes


This project aims to employ classical dendrochronological techniques to generate new tropical tree-ring chronologies that are annually resolved and absolutely dated. Radiocarbon measurements (14-Carbon) will ensure accurate dating assessments. Thus, successful tree species will be selected to improve the 14-Carbon curve for the Southern Hemisphere. The resulting tree-ring series will be used to reconstruct past climate variability and regional to large--scale atmospheric dynamics for the last several centuries. The specific aims of the project are to improve understanding of: (1) the spatiotemporal variability of the South American summer monsoon (SASM); (2) long-term interactions between El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the SASM; and (3) the impact of volcanic forcing on past hydroclimate of the tropical Andes.

The research aims to provide significant advances in the science of tropical dendrochronology by developing a tree-ring network for the tropical Andes in Peru and Bolivia, a region with exceedingly scarce coverage of high-resolution terrestrial paleo-records. While tree rings have been extensively used in temperate climates, the tropics remain relatively unexplored due to the difficulty, in particular, of identifying consistent wood layers (tree rings) corresponding to seasonal or annual growing periods. The Central Andes are an ideal region for overcoming these difficulties, due to the pronounced precipitation seasonality and diverse forests.


This project is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Science (AGS), Paleoclimate Program, Paleo Perspective of Climate Change (P2C2).