Propagation of Strong Rainfall Events from Southeastern South America to the Central Andes

Niklas Boers, Henrique J Barbosa, Bodo Bookhagen, Jose A Marengo, Nobert Marwan, Jurgen Kurths

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Based on high-spatiotemporal-resolution data, the authors perform a climatological study of strong rainfall events propagating from southeastern South America to the eastern slopes of the central Andes during the monsoon season. These events account for up to 70% of total seasonal rainfall in these areas. They are of societal relevance because of associated natural hazards in the form of floods and landslides, and they form an intriguing climatic phenomenon, because they propagate against the direction of the low-level moisture flow from the tropics. The responsible synoptic mechanism is analyzed using suitable composites of the relevant atmospheric variables with high temporal resolution. The results suggest that the low-level inflow from the tropics, while important for maintaining sufficient moisture in the area of rainfall, does not initiate the formation of rainfall clusters. Instead, alternating low and high pressure anomalies in midlatitudes, which are associated with an eastward-moving Rossby wave train, in combination with the northwestern Argentinean low, create favorable pressure and wind conditions for frontogenesis and subsequent precipitation events propagating from southeastern South America toward the Bolivian Andes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7641-7658
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of climate
Issue number19
Early online date29 Sept 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgments. This paper was developed within the scope of the IRTG 1740/TRP 2011/50151-0, funded by the DFG/FAPESP. J. K. acknowledges financial support from the Government of the Russian Federation (Agreement 14.Z50.31.0033). J. M. was supported by the FAPESP Project Go Amazon, 2013/50538-7.


  • cold air surges
  • extreme events
  • precipitation
  • subtropical cyclones
  • convective storms
  • mesoscale systems


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