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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Impact of Pacific and Atlantic sea surface temperatures on interannual and decadal variations of GRACE land water storage in tropical South America


We analyze 10 years of Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) terrestrial water storage anomalies (TWSAs) over tropical South America along with seven climate indices linked to equatorial Pacific and tropical Atlantic oceans sea surface temperatures (SSTs) using a multichannel singular spectrum analysis and lagged cross correlations. We focus on the interannual, nonlinear modes of covariability between TWSAs and SSTs. By comparing the relative distributions of the leading modes, we identify teleconnections between TWSAs, Pacific and Atlantic SSTs at different time periods. Thus, the northern and northeastern regions of tropical South America are mainly influenced by Pacific SSTs, while the central and western Amazon regions are more influenced by Atlantic SSTs. The former regions are more sensitive to central Pacific SSTs than to eastern Pacific SSTs. A quasi-biennial mode explains the largest part (27%) of the residual, interannual cross covariance and is found both in the El Niño–Southern Oscillation and in the Atlantic meridional mode. A trend-like mode explains the second largest part (24%) of the residual cross covariance and may be caused by the following: (1) the decadal variability in the North Pacific climate, as expressed by the negative trend in the Pacific decadal oscillation and by increased water storage in northern and northeastern South America, (2) the melting of Andean glaciers in Peru and Bolivia due to man-induced increase in land surface temperatures, and (3) the land use/cover changes after deforestation leading to increased runoff and groundwater recharge, expressed by increased water storage in southern Amazon regions.

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