Climate signals in high elevation tree-rings from the semiarid Andes of north-central Chile: responses to regional and largescale variability

Jonathan Barichivich, David J. Sauchyn, Antonio Lara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


In South America, the arid and semiarid subtropical regions through the Atacama Desert and north-central Chile between 19° and 32°S are currently a gap in the tree-ring chronology network. Only a short tree-ring chronology has been published for this vast region and little is known about the suitability of many woody species for tree-ring analysis and dendroclimatology. In this paper we present the first detailed analysis of the climate responses and influences of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) on the tree-rings of three species new to dendrochronology and that typically occur at high elevations in the Andes of central and north-central Chile. Three well-replicated tree-ring chronologies of Kageneckia angustifolia, Proustia cuneifolia and Fabiana imbricata are compared with century-long regional records of precipitation and temperature, and with the N3.4 SST and PDO indices in both time and frequency-domains using correlation and wavelet analysis. The radial growth of these species is controlled by winter precipitation and is also positively correlated with temperature during most of the rainy season from April to September (autumn-spring). The regional climate as well as tree growth is strongly modulated by ENSO and ENSO-like conditions in the equatorial Pacific at both interannual and interdecadal timescales. The decadal and interdecadal variability is not correlated with PDO and appears to be related to the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO), a Pacific-wide ENSO-like mode of climate variability. Despite their relatively short lifespans, these three new species have a high potential for dendrochronological and dendroclimatic studies in the semiarid region of Chile over the last two centuries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320-333
Number of pages14
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Issue number281
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Cite this