by C. Schneider et al., April 2020 in FrontierEarthScience
The regional climate in Southernmost South America is heavily influenced by the proximity to the oceans. This generates rather weak seasonal cycles with cool to cold summers and moderate to cold winters, especially on the western Pacific side. Slightly more pronounced, continental seasonal cycles are observed in the East of the Andes. While annual mean air temperatures across the region are decreasing from North to South precipitation patterns show very pronounced east-west gradients. The distinctive gradients in precipitation are caused by the north-south striking mountain ranges of the Patagonian Andes, and the northwest-southeast stretching mountain chains of the Cordillera Darwin. Both mountain ranges enforce heavy precipitation on the west and southwest exposed flanks by uplift and dry foehn-like conditions on the leesides (e.g., Holmlund and Fuenzalida, 1995; Schneider et al., 2003; Rasmussen et al., 2007) which produces extremely high drying ratios (Escobar et al., 1992; Carrasco et al., 2002; Smith and Evans, 2007). At inter-annual to decadal time scales atmospheric teleconnections such as the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) (Schneider and Gies, 2004), Southern Annular Mode (SAM), and Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) are influencing spatial and temporal patterns of both, precipitation and air temperature. For example, positive SAM modes (Garreaud, 2009; Weidemann, Sauter, Kilian et al.) and the PDO (Villalba et al., 2003) are associated with higher air temperatures. Langhamer et al. show that the source of precipitation in the Southern Andes also depends on these teleconnections.
An important aspect is that Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, together with the sub-Antarctic islands are the only regions where direct proximity between Antarctica and land masses north of the Southern Ocean is given. Such linkages are for example explored with investigations by Hebel et al. on the biosphere and Oppedal et al. for the regional glacier history.