Examining Basin-Scale Water and Climate Relations across the Pampa del Tamarugal, Atacama Desert through Spatial Analysis of Hydrogen, Carbon and Oxygen Isotopes in Tree Rings
Arid regions are extremely sensitive to variations hydroclimate. However, our understanding of past hydroclimate variations in these regions is often limited by a paucity of spatially resolved proxy data. The Atacama Desert of northern Chile is one of the driest regions on Earth, and hydroclimatic processes in the Atacama Desert may be a useful proxy for understanding the implications of expanding global aridity. In order to assess the ability of tree-ring isotope studies to record changes in hydrology and terrestrial climate in the Atacama Desert, oxygen (δ18O), carbon (δ13C) and hydrogen (δ2H) isotope values in tree rings of Prosopis tamarugo are analyzed for the modern period (1954-2014) when anthropogenic change to regional groundwater levels have been most notable. Samples of wood cellulose were collected throughout the Pampa del Tamarugal basin from 14 individuals and used to create an interpolated surface of isotope variations. The isotope data were then compared to groundwater depth from well monitoring data provided by the Dirección de General de Agua of Chile. There is a significant correlation between groundwater level and isotope values with best agreement occurring during the past two decades for δ18O (r = 0.58), δ13C (r = 0.55), and δ2H (r = 0.66) values. This spatial correlation analysis reveals that tree ring a-cellulose isotope values are a suitable proxy for reconstructing groundwater depth in the Pampa del Tamarugal Basin. A stepwise multiregression analysis between δ18O values of cellulose and several other environmental variables including groundwater level, relative humidity, and temperature suggest that groundwater depth is the dominate control of variation in the modern δ18O tree ring record. The response of tree cellulose to the hydroclimate in this region suggests that tree ring isotope variations may be used to reconstruct past hydroclimate conditions in arid regions throughout the globe.
AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts
- Pub Date:
- December 2016
- 4914 Continental climate records;
- PALEOCEANOGRAPHYDE: 4924 Geochemical tracers;
- PALEOCEANOGRAPHYDE: 4928 Global climate models;