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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-225
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-225
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 20 Jun 2019

Research article | 20 Jun 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Revisiting extreme precipitation amounts over southern South America and implications for the Patagonian Icefields

Tobias Sauter Tobias Sauter
  • Climate System Research Group, Institute of Geography, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), Germany

Abstract. Patagonia is thought to be one of the wettest regions on Earth, although available regional precipitation estimates vary considerably. This uncertainty complicates understanding and quantifying the observed environmental changes, such as glacier recession, biodiversity decline in fjord ecosystems and enhanced net primary production. The observed dramatic volume loss of the Patagonian Icefields, for example, contradicts the reported positive surface mass balances. Here I use simple physical arguments to test the plausibility of the current precipitation estimates and its impact on the Patagonian Icefields. The results show that environmental conditions required to sustain a mean precipitation amount exceeding 6.09 ± 0.64 m yr−1 are untenable according to the regional moisture flux. The revised precipitation values imply a significant reduction in surface mass balance of the Patagonian Icefields compared to previously reported values. This yields a new perspective on the response of Patagonia's glaciers to climate change and their sea-level contribution and might also help reduce uncertainties in the change of other precipitation-driven environmental phenomena.

Tobias Sauter
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Status: open (until 17 Aug 2019)
Status: open (until 17 Aug 2019)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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Tobias Sauter
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Short summary
Patagonia is thought to be one of the wettest – if not the wettest – places on Earth. The plausibility of these numbers has never been carefully scrutinised, despite the significance of this topic to our understanding of observed environmental changes, such as glacier recession. The revised precipitation values are significantly smaller than the previously reported values, thus opening up a new perspective on the Patagonian glaciers' response to climate change.
Patagonia is thought to be one of the wettest – if not the wettest – places on Earth. The...
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