Regional climatic similarities in the temperate zones of North and South America

TitleRegional climatic similarities in the temperate zones of North and South America
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1995
AuthorsParuelo, JM, Lauenroth, WK, Epstein, HE, Burke, IC, Aguiar, MR, Sala, OE
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Pagination915 -925
Accession NumberKNZ0014

An analysis of the climatic patterns of the temperate zones in North and South America using a global database of monthly precipitation and temperature was performed. Three synthetic variables, identified by a principal component analysis of the monthly data, were used: mean annual precipitation, mean annual temperature and the proportion of the precipitation falling during summer. The spatial gradient of the 3 variables was displayed by constructing a composite colour raster image. A parallelepiped classification algorithm was used to locate areas in both continents that are climatically similar to 5 North American long term ecological research (LTER) sites and to 2 South American LTER sites. The same algorithm was used to identify areas in South America which are climatically similar to some of the major grassland and shrubland types of North America. There was substantial overlap between the climates of North and South America. Most of the climatic patterns found in South America are well represented in North America but there are certain climates in North America that are not found in South America. An example is a climate with relatively low mean annual temperature and high summer precipitation. The climatic signatures of 3 North American LTER sites (Cedar Creek, CPER and Sevilleta) were not found in South America. The climatic signatures of two LTER sites (Konza and Jornada) had some representation in South America. Two South American research sites (Rio Mayo and Las Chilcas) were well represented climatically in North America. The climates of 6 out of 7 selected North American grassland and shrubland types were represented in South America. The northern mixed prairie type was not represented climatically in South America. It is suggested that comparisons of North and South America may provide a powerful test of climatic control over vegetation