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Atmospheric Circulation Changes in the Tropical Pacific Inferred from the Voyages of the Manila Galleons in the Sixteenth - Eighteenth Centuries


Fig. 1. Plot of daily positions from Acapulco to the Embocadero of the galleon San Pedro, 1779
Old Spanish Mariner's Map of the Philippines.
Atmospheric Circulation Changes in the Tropical Pacific Inferred from the Voyages of the Manila Galleons in the Sixteenth - Eighteenth Centuries
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society
Volume 82, Number 11, pp. 2435, November 2001.

Rolando R. Garcia
National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
Henry F. Díaz
Climate Diagnostics Center, NOAA, Boulder, Colorado
Ricardo García Herrera
Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain
Jon Eischeid
Climate Diagnostics Center, NOAA, Boulder, Colorado
María del Rosario Prieto
CRICYT, Mendoza, Argentina
Emiliano Hernández
Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain
Luis Gimeno
Universidad de Vigo, Orense, Spain
Francisco Rubio Durán and Ana María Bascary
Universidad de Sevilla, Seville, Spain
ABSTRACT:
Historical accounts of the voyages of the Manila galleons derived from the Archivo General de Indias (General Archive of the Indies, Seville, Spain) are used to infer past changes in the atmospheric circulation of the tropical Pacific Ocean. It is shown that the length of the voyage between Acapulco, Mexico, and the Philippine Islands during the period 1590-1750 exhibits large secular trends, such that voyages in the middle of the seventeenth century are some 40% longer than those at the beginning or at the end of the century, and that these trends are unlikely to have been caused by societal or technological factors. Analysis of a series of "virtual voyages," constructed from modern wind data, indicates that sailing time to the Philippines depended critically on the strength of the trade winds and the position of the western Pacific monsoon trough. These results suggest that the atmospheric circulation of the western Pacific underwent large, multidecadal fluctuations during the seventeenth century.
Download data from the WDC Paleo archive:
Tables of Acapulco-Manila and Manila-Acapulco Galleon voyages, with start and arrival dates, and relevant quotations from the Archivo General de Indias (in Spanish), Microsoft Word or PDF format.
Annual Voyage Duration Data
Data Description

To read or view the full study, please visit the American Meteorological Society website.
It was published in Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Volume 82, Number 11, pp. 2435, November 2001.
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