This study compares temperature, precipitation, and other climate variables from six widely used climate reanalysis products to inform ice-core climate proxy record calibration in the Altiplano region of the central Andes. The reanalyzes are the European Reanalysis version 5 (ERA5), European Reanalysis Interim, Modern-Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA2), Japanese 55-year Reanalysis, Climate Forecast System Reanalysis and version 2 extension, and NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis version 1. These data products are validated against observations from automatic weather stations on the Quelccaya Ice Cap, Peru (5,650 m a.s.l) and Chacaltaya, Bolivia (5,238 m a.s.l), in addition to lower sites ranging in elevation 2,500–4,900 m a.s.l. Our results suggest that ERA5 provides the most robust overall depiction of temperature and precipitation across the study domain, and the data set is particularly useful for its back-extension to 1950. However, MERRA2 produces lower precipitation error scores owing to a gaged-based bias correction. An examination of ERA5 vertical atmospheric profiles for a latitudinal transect over Quelccaya shows considerable variability, including across major El Niño events, suggesting the need for caution when interpreting isotopic signatures in ice cores.
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