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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Western Pacific hydroclimate linked to global climate variability over the past two millennia.

  • Author(s): Griffiths, Michael L
  • Kimbrough, Alena K
  • Gagan, Michael K
  • Drysdale, Russell N
  • Cole, Julia E
  • Johnson, Kathleen R
  • Zhao, Jian-Xin
  • Cook, Benjamin I
  • Hellstrom, John C
  • Hantoro, Wahyoe S
  • et al.

Interdecadal modes of tropical Pacific ocean-atmosphere circulation have a strong influence on global temperature, yet the extent to which these phenomena influence global climate on multicentury timescales is still poorly known. Here we present a 2,000-year, multiproxy reconstruction of western Pacific hydroclimate from two speleothem records for southeastern Indonesia. The composite record shows pronounced shifts in monsoon rainfall that are antiphased with precipitation records for East Asia and the central-eastern equatorial Pacific. These meridional and zonal patterns are best explained by a poleward expansion of the Australasian Intertropical Convergence Zone and weakening of the Pacific Walker circulation (PWC) between ∼1000 and 1500 CE Conversely, an equatorward contraction of the Intertropical Convergence Zone and strengthened PWC occurred between ∼1500 and 1900 CE. Our findings, together with climate model simulations, highlight the likelihood that century-scale variations in tropical Pacific climate modes can significantly modulate radiatively forced shifts in global temperature.

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