Cloud frequency climatology at the Andes/Amazon transition: 2. Trends and variability

Kate Halladay (Lead Author), Yadvinder Malhi, Mark New

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15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The climate and ecology of tropical montane systems is intimately connected with the complex spatial dynamics of cloud occurrence, but there have been few studies of the patterns and trends of cloud occurrence in tropical montane regions. We examine trends and variability in the cloud climatology of the Andes/Amazon transition in SW Amazonia using satellite data and ground-based observations. Results were compared for three zones within the study area: highlands (puna grassland), eastern slope (Tropical Montane Cloud Forest or TMCF) and lowlands. Time series of cloud frequency from ISCCP (International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project) were correlated with sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies from the HadISST data set for 5 regions including the tropical North Atlantic and the tropical Pacific. Detrended lowland cloud frequencies were significantly correlated with detrended tropical North Atlantic SSTs in the late dry season (August/September), whereas the eastern slope and the highlands were not significantly correlated with tropical North Atlantic SSTs. Pacific SST correlations were highest for eastern slope and highlands from March to May. Indian Ocean SST anomalies were significantly correlated with dry season cloud frequency for the lowlands and highlands. There are significant decreasing trends in cloud frequency on the lowlands in January, March and September and in March on the eastern slope. Trends in sunshine duration, 850 hPa zonal winds over the central Amazon, increases in diurnal temperature range, and comparisons with MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) and observational data support the existence of these trends, and a link with the increasing trend in tropical North Atlantic SSTs. We suggest that continued increases in tropical North Atlantic SSTs will further reduce cloud frequency in the lowlands adjacent to the TMCF in the late dry season at least. In addition, a future increase in the occurrence of El Nino events would lead to decreased cloud frequency on the eastern slope and highlands.

Original languageEnglish
Article number23103
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Volume117
Issue numberD23
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2012

Keywords

  • SEA-SURFACE TEMPERATURE
  • AMAZON BASIN
  • CENTRAL ANDES
  • INTERANNUAL VARIABILITY
  • SUMMERTIME PRECIPITATION
  • ATMOSPHERIC CIRCULATION
  • SOUTHERN-OSCILLATION
  • RAIN-FOREST
  • PACIFIC
  • DROUGHT

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