Past Climate Variability in South America and Surrounding Regions

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South America is a unique place where a number of past climate archives are ava- able from tropical to high latitude regions. It thus offers a unique opportunity to explore past climate variability along a latitudinal transect from the Equator to Polar regions and to study climate teleconnections. Most climate records from tropical and subtropical South America for the past 20,000 years have been interpreted as local responses to shift in the mean position and intensity of the InterTropical Conv- gence Zone due to tropical and extratropical forcings or to changes in the South American Summer Monsoon. Further South, the role of the Southern Hemisphere westerly winds on global climate has been highly investigated with both paleodata and coupled climate models. However the regional response over South America during the last 20,000 years is much more variable from place to place than pre- ously thought. The factors that govern the spatial patterns of variability on millennial scale resolution are still to be understood. The question of past natural rates and ranges of climate conditions over South America is therefore of special relevance in this context since today millions of people live under climates where any changes in monsoon rainfall can lead to catastrophic consequences.