A Tree-Ring reconstruction of past precipitation for Baja California Sur, Mexico

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There is great interest in the climatic variability of Baja California and the Sea of Cortes, but long-term information is limited because instrumental climate records begin in the 1940s or 1960s. The first tree-ring chronology of Pinus lagunae was developed from the southern part of the Baja California Peninsula and the chronology is used to reconstruct the history of precipitation variations. A September-July precipitation reconstruction is developed for the period AD 1862-1996 (R = 0.71, p < 0.0001, n = 56, cross-validation = 0.68). This reconstruction is used to assess precipitation variability over the past two centuries, including the relationship with ENSO events. The reconstructed precipitation series indicates a long drought period from 1939 to 1958. It also shows that 1983, one of the strongest El Niño events of the 20th century, is the wettest year. El Niño events during the 20th century are associated with above-normal precipitation, whereas La Niña events are characterized by below-normal precipitation. Four of the most extreme wet years occurred in association with these warm events (1905, 1912, 1919 and 1983). Seventy-one percent of La Niña events are characterized by below-normal precipitation. Sixty-two percent of El Niño events are characterized by above-normal precipitation. Tree-ring growth of P. lagunae is most strongly correlated with winter precipitation in Sonora, Sinaloa and southern Baja California Sur. Precipitation data from meteorological stations in northern Baja California do not correlate well with the tree-ring chronology because this zone has a Mediterranean climate, which differs from the rest of northwest Mexico.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1007-1019
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Climatology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jun 30 2001



  • Baja California Sur
  • Dendroclimatology
  • ENSO-Precipitat
  • Mexico
  • Pinus lagunae
  • Sierra de La Laguna

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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