Research ArticleCLIMATOLOGY

Intertropical convergence zone variability in the Neotropics during the Common Era

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Science Advances  14 Feb 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 7, eaax3644
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax3644

Abstract

Large changes in hydroclimate in the Neotropics implied by proxy evidence, such as during the Little Ice Age, have been attributed to meridional shifts of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), although alternative modes of ITCZ variability have also been suggested. Here, we use seasonally resolved stalagmite rainfall proxy data from the modern northern limit of the ITCZ in southern Belize, combined with records from across the Neotropics and subtropics, to fingerprint ITCZ variability during the Common Era. Our data are consistent with models that suggest ITCZ expansion and weakening during globally cold climate intervals and contraction and intensification during global warmth. As a result, regions currently in the margins of the ITCZ in both hemispheres are likely transitioning to more arid and highly variable conditions, aggravating current trends of increased social unrest and mass migration.

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