Spatiotemporal Variability of Precipitation in the Tropical Andes of Southern Peru and Bolivia during the 2015-16 Strong El Niño

Authors: Joe Jonaitis*, Appalachian State University, L. Baker Perry, Appalachian State University, Department of Geography and Planning, Boone, North Carolina, USA, Anton Seimon, Appalachian State University, Department of Geography and Planning, Boone, North Carolina, USA and Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, Orono, Maine, USA, Marcos F. Andrade-Flores, Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, La Paz, Bolivia, Maxwell Rado, Universidad Nacional de San Antonio Abád del Cusco, Cusco, Peru, Heather Guy, Appalachian State University, Department of Geography and Planning, Boone, North Carolina, USA
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology
Keywords: ENSO, Precipitation, Tropical Andes, Peru, Bolivia, Water Resources
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Glaciers in the tropical high Andes of Southern Peru and Bolivia are important sources of fresh water and climate records from ice cores; however, rapid deglaciation has occurred since the 1970’s, with some glaciers disappearing altogether. Variability in precipitation and cloud cover, along with well-documented increasing temperatures, have contributed to the negative glacier mass balance across the region. Much of the precipitation and cloud cover variability in the study region has previously been tied to the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) with the warm (cold) phase of ENSO resulting in less (more) precipitation in this region. Recent investigations in the region, however, have identified important spatiotemporal differences from this previous understanding. This study examines an exceptionally developed set of daily precipitation observations from meteorological stations, a network of citizen scientist observers, airports, a vertically-pointing radar, and high elevation (>5,000 m asl) automated meteorological stations to determine the spatiotemporal patterns of precipitation characteristics (e.g., total precipitation, number of rainy days, onset of wet season, melting layer heights) during the 2015-16 El Niño. Results indicate a complex spatial pattern of precipitation characteristics with several periods of anomalously heavy precipitation coinciding with extremely high melting layer heights (> 5,200 m asl); annual net accumulation at the Quelccaya meteorological station, however, was far below seasonal averages. When compared with past climatological values, these local precipitation characteristics and anomalies from one of the strongest El Niños on record provide better understanding for long-term ENSO variability.

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