Publication Type:Journal Article
Source:JOURNAL OF BIOGEOGRAPHY, BLACKWELL SCIENCE LTD, Volume 22, Number 4-5, OSNEY MEAD, OXFORD, OXON, ENGLAND OX2 0EL, p.915-925 (1995)
Keywords:climatic classification, global change, Grasslands, North America, shrublands, South America, temperate zones
We performed an analysis of the climatic patterns of the temperate zones in North and South America using a global database of monthly precipitation and temperature. Three synthetic variables, identified by a principal component analysis (PCA) of the monthly data, were used: mean annual precipitation, mean annual temperature and the proportion of the precipitation falling during summer. We displayed the spatial gradient of the three variables by constructing a composite colour raster image. We used a parallelepiped classification algorithm to locate areas in both continents that are climatically similar to five North American Long Term Ecological Research sites and to two South American long-term ecological research 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 is 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. However, 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 three 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 six out of seven selected North American grassland and shrubland types were represented in South America. The northern mixed prairie type was not represented climatically in South America. Our analysis suggests that comparisons of North and South America can provide a powerful test of climatic control over vegetation.