Likely Ranges of Climate Change in Bolivia

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Bolivia is facing numerous climate-related threats, ranging from water scarcity due to rapidly retreating glaciers in the Andes to a partial loss of the Amazon forest in the lowlands. To assess what changes in climate may be expected in the future, 35 global circulation models (GCMs) from the third and fifth phases of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP3/5) were analyzed for the Bolivian case. GCMs were validated against observed surface air temperature, precipitation, and incoming shortwave (SW) radiation for the period 1961–90. Weighted ensembles were developed, and climate change projections for five emission scenarios were assessed for 2070–99. GCMs revealed an overall cold, wet, and positive-SW-radiation bias and showed no substantial improvement from the CMIP3 to the CMIP5 ensemble for the Bolivian case. Models projected an increase in temperature (2.5°–5.9°C) and SW radiation (1%–5%), with seasonal and regional differences. In the lowlands, changes in annual rainfall remained uncertain for CMIP3 whereas CMIP5 GCMs were more inclined to project decreases (-9%). This pattern also applied to most of the Amazon basin, suggesting a higher risk of partial biomass loss for the CMIP5 ensemble. Both ensembles agreed on less rainfall (-19%) during drier months (June–August and September–November), with significant changes in interannual rainfall variability, but disagreed on changes during wetter months (January–March). In the Andes, CMIP3 GCMs tended toward less rainfall (-9%) whereas CMIP5 tended toward more (+20%) rainfall during parts of the wet season. The findings presented here may provide inputs for studies of climate change impact that assess how resilient human and natural systems are under different climate change scenarios.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1303-1317
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • south-america
  • change scenarios
  • altiplano
  • rainfall
  • models
  • andes
  • variability
  • circulation
  • amazon
  • trends


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