This paper reviews recent progress made in our understanding of the functioning and variability of the South American Monsoon System (SAMS) on time scales varying from synoptic to long-term variability and climate change. The SAMS contains one of the most prominent summertime climate patterns in South America, featuring a strong seasonal variability in a region lying between the Amazon and the La Plata Basin. Much of the recent progress is derived from complementary international programs, such as the Monsoon Experiment South America (MESA), as well as from ongoing international programs such as the Large Scale Biosphere Atmosphere Experiment in the Amazon Basin (LBA) and the La Plata Basin (LPB) Regional Hydroclimate Project, which includes the CLARIS LPB Europe-South America Network for Climate Change Assessment and Impact Studies in La Plata Basin Project. The latter assesses atmosphere-land surface interactions, the role of land use changes and aerosols from biomass burning considered as sources of variability and change in the SAMS functioning, characteristics and behaviour.
The SAMS region is particularly susceptible to variations of climate due to the importance of hydroelectricity generation and the agricultural base of local economies. Also addressed in this report are projections of climate change and extremes, which are important for impact and vulnerability assessments. This discussion includes the need to identify and understand important processes that control the monsoonal climate, how these processes may vary and change, and how they may interact with key societal sectors, including water resource management, hydroelectric generation, agriculture, and agribusiness.
This paper reports on the major contributions of MESA to the knowledge of characteristics, functioning and variability of the SAMS, and is based on recent studies and publications, and can be considered as an update of a previous review by C. S. Vera et al. (2006a). Copyright © 2010 Royal Meteorological Society