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Quantitative high-resolution winter (JJA) precipitation reconstruction from varved sediments of Lago Plomo 47°S, Patagonian Andes, AD 1530-2002

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Elbert Julie, Grosjean Martin, von Gunten Lucien, Urrutia Roberto, Fischer Daniela, Wartenburger Richard, Ariztegui Daniel, Fujak Marian, Hamann Yvonne,
Project Scanning in-situ reflectance spectroscopy as a novel tool for high-resolution climate reconstructions from lake sediments, southern Chile
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal The Holocene
Title of proceedings The Holocene
DOI DOI: 10.1177/0959683611425547


High-resolution climate reconstructions from a range of natural archives across the world are fundamental to place current climate change into perspective. Paleoclimate records for the Southern Hemisphere are scarce and only a few quantitative high-resolution reconstructions exist for the past millennium. We present a record of annually laminated sediments of Lago Plomo (46°59'S, 72°52'W,203 m a.s.l.) located east of the Northern Patagonian Ice Field (NPI). Radiometric dating (210Pb, 137Cs, 14C AMS) is consistent with counts of millimetre-scale laminae, confirming the annual nature of the laminae couplets with a light summer and a dark winter layer. The varves were analyzed for thickness, mass accumulation rate (MAR), scanning x-ray fluorescence (XRF) and scanning reflectance spectroscopy in the visible range (VIS-RS). MAR data were calibrated against austral winter (JJA) precipitation data (CRU TS 3.0) for the period AD 1930–2002 (r = 0.67, p(aut) < 0.05). Using a linear inverse regression model we reconstructed winter precipitation for Lago Plomo back to AD 1530. The root mean squared error of prediction (RMSEP) is small (13.3 mm/month; 12% of the average precipitation) compared with the pronounced decadal and multidecadal variability, suggesting that most of the reconstructed variability is significant. Wetter phases (reference AD 1930–2002) were observed around AD 1600, AD 1630–1690 and AD 1780–1850, and a prolonged drier period AD 1690–1780 with a multidecadal minimum centered on AD 1770. The spatial correlation for South America suggests that the JJA precipitation record from Lago Plomo is representative for large areas in the southwest between c. 41°S and 51°S.