Climatic fluctuations in northern Patagonia during the last 1000 years as inferred from tree-ring records
Millennium-old alerce trees ( Fitzroya cupressoides (Mol.) Johnst.) have been used to develop a 1120-year reconstruction of the summer temperature departures for the Andes of northern Patagonia in Argentina. Four main climatic episodes can be distinguished in this proxy paleoclimatic record. The first, a cold and moist interval from A.D. 900 to 1070, was followed by a warm-dry period from A.D. 1080 to 1250 correlative with the Medieval warm epoch of Europe. Afterward, a long, cold-moist period followed from A.D. 1270 to 1670, peaking around A.D. 1340 and 1650. These cold maxima are contemporaneous with two principal Little Ice Age events registered in the Northern Hemisphere. Warmer conditions then resumed between A.D. 1720 and 1790. These episodes are supported by glaciological and palynological data in Patagonia. Following a cold period in the early 1800s, tree-ring indices have oscillated around the long-term mean, except for a warmer period from A.D. 1850 to 1890. Correlations between the Rio Alerce reconstruction and the regional weather stations indicate that the tree-ring variations are correlated with a homogeneous summer weather pattern covering Patagonia east of the Andes from 38° to 50°S.