2020-09-02Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/ab9cff
An early-warning indicator for Amazon droughts exclusively based on tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures
Droughts in tropical South America have an imminent and severe impact on the Amazon rainforest and affect the livelihoods of millions of people. Extremely dry conditions in Amazonia have been previously linked to sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the adjacent tropical oceans. Although the sources and impacts of such droughts have been widely studied, establishing reliable multi-year lead statistical forecasts of their occurrence is still an ongoing challenge. Here, we further investigate the relationship between SST and rainfall anomalies using a complex network approach. We identify four ocean regions which exhibit the strongest overall SST correlations with central Amazon rainfall, including two particularly prominent regions in the northern and southern tropical Atlantic. Based on the time-dependent correlation between SST anomalies in these two regions alone, we establish a new early-warning method for droughts in the central Amazon basin and demonstrate its robustness in hindcasting past major drought events with lead-times up to 18 months.