Tropical rainfall over the last two millennia: evidence for a low-latitude hydrologic seesaw.
ABSTRACT: The presence of a low- to mid-latitude interhemispheric hydrologic seesaw is apparent over orbital and glacial-interglacial timescales, but its existence over the most recent past remains unclear. Here we investigate, based on climate proxy reconstructions from both hemispheres, the inter-hemispherical phasing of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and the low- to mid-latitude teleconnections in the Northern Hemisphere over the past 2000 years. A clear feature is a persistent southward shift of the ITCZ during the Little Ice Age until the beginning of the 19th Century. Strong covariation between our new composite ITCZ-stack and North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) records reveals a tight coupling between these two synoptic weather and climate phenomena over decadal-to-centennial timescales. This relationship becomes most apparent when comparing two precisely dated, high-resolution paleorainfall records from Belize and Scotland, indicating that the low- to mid-latitude teleconnection was also active over annual-decadal timescales. It is likely a combination of external forcing, i.e., solar and volcanic, and internal feedbacks, that drives the synchronous ITCZ and NAO shifts via energy flux perturbations in the tropics.
Project description:Over the last few decades, rising greenhouse gas emissions have promoted poleward expansion of the large-scale atmospheric Hadley circulation that dominates the Tropics, thereby affecting behavior of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). Expression of these changes in tropical marine ecosystems is poorly understood because of sparse observational datasets. We link contemporary ecological changes in the southern Caribbean Sea to global climate change indices. Monthly observations from the CARIACO Ocean Time-Series between 1996 and 2010 document significant decadal scale trends, including a net sea surface temperature (SST) rise of ?1.0 ± 0.14 °C (±SE), intensified stratification, reduced delivery of upwelled nutrients to surface waters, and diminished phytoplankton bloom intensities evident as overall declines in chlorophyll a concentrations (?Chla = -2.8 ± 0.5%?y(-1)) and net primary production (?NPP = -1.5 ± 0.3%?y(-1)). Additionally, phytoplankton taxon dominance shifted from diatoms, dinoflagellates, and coccolithophorids to smaller taxa after 2004, whereas mesozooplankton biomass increased and commercial landings of planktivorous sardines collapsed. Collectively, our results reveal an ecological state change in this planktonic system. The weakening trend in Trade Winds (-1.9 ± 0.3%?y(-1)) and dependent local variables are largely explained by trends in two climatic indices, namely the northward migration of the Azores High pressure center (descending branch of Hadley cell) by 1.12 ± 0.42°N latitude and the northeasterly progression of the ITCZ Atlantic centroid (ascending branch of Hadley cell), the March position of which shifted by about 800 km between 1996 and 2009.
Project description:Quasi-decadal variability in solar irradiance has been suggested to exert a substantial effect on Earth's regional climate. In the North Atlantic sector, the 11-year solar signal has been proposed to project onto a pattern resembling the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), with a lag of a few years due to ocean-atmosphere interactions. The solar/NAO relationship is, however, highly misrepresented in climate model simulations with realistic observed forcings. In addition, its detection is particularly complicated since NAO quasi-decadal fluctuations can be intrinsically generated by the coupled ocean-atmosphere system. Here we compare two multi-decadal ocean-atmosphere chemistry-climate simulations with and without solar forcing variability. While the experiment including solar variability simulates a 1-2-year lagged solar/NAO relationship, comparison of both experiments suggests that the 11-year solar cycle synchronizes quasi-decadal NAO variability intrinsic to the model. The synchronization is consistent with the downward propagation of the solar signal from the stratosphere to the surface.
Project description:The forcing mechanisms responsible for centennial to millennial variability of mid-latitude storminess are still poorly understood. On decadal scales, the present-day geographic variability of North-Atlantic storminess responds to latitudinal shifts of the North-Atlantic westerly wind-belt under the prime control of the North-Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). An equivalent mechanism operating at centennial to millennial time scales during the Holocene is still to be ascertained, especially owing to the lack of high-resolution and continuous records of past-storminess extending far enough in time. Here we present a reconstruction of past storminess activity based on a high-resolution record of wind-blown sand retrieved from a near-coastal wetland. Our record extends back to ca. 10,000 B.P. and allows to continuously document fluctuations in the frequency of Holocene storm-force winds at our study-site at a mean high temporal resolution of 40 years. Large similarities between our record and palaeo-oceanographic records of Holocene climate changes in the North-Atlantic suggest that our past-storminess record reproduces a signal of significance for the North-Eastern Atlantic realm. We find that Holocene North-Atlantic storminess is dominated by robust millennial (?2,500-year) to centennial (?400 and 200-year) periodicities. These changes in storminess were accompanied by changes in the precipitation regimes over northern Europe, evidencing large-scale shifts in the latitudinal positions of the Atlantic westerlies akin to present-day NAO patterns. We propose that these shifts originate from changes in the position and extent of the Azores high-pressure system and Polar vortex, as supported by climate model simulations. Finally, we demonstrate that enhanced zonal storminess activity over the North-Atlantic was the driver of centennial-scale changes in North-Atlantic oceanic circulation, while ocean dynamics most likely influenced back the atmospheric circulation at millennial time-scales. This may vouch for the instrumental role played by North-Atlantic storminess in triggering abrupt climate change at centennial scales during the Holocene.
Project description:The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is the major atmospheric mode that controls winter European climate variability because its strength and phase determine regional temperature, precipitation and storm tracks. The NAO spatial structure and associated climatic impacts over Europe are not stationary making it crucial to understanding its past evolution in order to improve the predictability of future scenarios. In this regard, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of studies aimed at reconstructing past NAO variability, but the information related to decadal-scale NAO evolution beyond the last millennium is scarce and inconclusive. We present a new 2,000-year multi-annual, proxy-based reconstruction of local NAO impact, with associated uncertainties, obtained by a Bayesian approach. This new local NAO reconstruction is obtained from a mountain lacustrine sedimentary archive of the Iberian Peninsula. This geographical area is not included in previous NAO reconstructions despite being a widely used region for instrumental-based NAO measurements. We assess the main external forcings (i.e., volcanic eruptions and solar activity) on NAO variability which, on a decadal scale, show that a low number of sunspots correlate to low NAO values. By comparison with other previously published NAO reconstructions in our analyses we can test the stationarity of the solar influence on the NAO signal across a latitudinal gradient based on the position of the employed archives for each NAO reconstruction. Inconclusive results on the volcanic forcing on NAO variability over decadal time-scales indicates the need for further studies. Moreover, we highlight the potential role of other North Atlantic modes of variability (i.e., East Atlantic pattern) on the non-stationary behaviour of the NAO throughout the Common Era, likely via solar forcing.
Project description:The seasonal north-south migration of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) defines the tropical rain belt (TRB), a region of enormous terrestrial and marine biodiversity and home to 40% of people on Earth. The TRB is dynamic and has been shown to shift south as a coherent system during periods of Northern Hemisphere cooling. However, recent studies of Indo-Pacific hydroclimate suggest that during the Little Ice Age (LIA; AD 1400-1850), the TRB in this region contracted rather than being displaced uniformly southward. This behaviour is not well understood, particularly during climatic fluctuations less pronounced than those of the LIA, the largest centennial-scale cool period of the last millennium. Here we show that the Indo-Pacific TRB expanded and contracted numerous times over multi-decadal to centennial scales during the last 3,000 yr. By integrating precisely-dated stalagmite records of tropical hydroclimate from southern China with a newly enhanced stalagmite time series from northern Australia, our study reveals a previously unidentified coherence between the austral and boreal summer monsoon. State-of-the-art climate model simulations of the last millennium suggest these are linked to changes in the structure of the regional manifestation of the atmosphere's meridional circulation.
Project description:Tropical rainfall variability is closely linked to meridional shifts of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and zonal movements of the Walker circulation. The characteristics and mechanisms of tropical rainfall variations on centennial to decadal scales are, however, still unclear. Here, we reconstruct a replicated stalagmite-based 2,700-y-long, continuous record of rainfall for the deeply convective northern central Indo-Pacific (NCIP) region. Our record reveals decreasing rainfall in the NCIP over the past 2,700 y, similar to other records from the northern tropics. Notable centennial- to decadal-scale dry climate episodes occurred in both the NCIP and the southern central Indo-Pacific (SCIP) during the 20th century [Current Warm Period (CWP)] and the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), resembling enhanced El Niñ<i>o</i>-like conditions. Further, we developed a 2,000-y-long ITCZ shift index record that supports an overall southward ITCZ shift in the central Indo-Pacific and indicates southward mean ITCZ positions during the early MWP and the CWP. As a result, the drying trend since the 20<sup>th</sup> century in the northern tropics is similar to that observed during the past warm period, suggesting that a possible anthropogenic forcing of rainfall remains indistinguishable from natural variability.
Project description:Climate change has had profound effects upon marine ecosystems, impacting across all trophic levels from plankton to apex predators. Determining the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems requires understanding the direct effects on all trophic levels as well as indirect effects mediated by trophic coupling. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of climate change on the pelagic food web in the Celtic Sea, a productive shelf region in the Northeast Atlantic. Using long-term data, we examined possible direct and indirect 'bottom-up' climate effects across four trophic levels: phytoplankton, zooplankton, mid-trophic level fish and seabirds. During the period 1986-2007, although there was no temporal trend in the North Atlantic Oscillation index (NAO), the decadal mean Sea Surface Temperature (SST) in the Celtic Sea increased by 0.66 ± 0.02 °C. Despite this, there was only a weak signal of climate change in the Celtic Sea food web. Changes in plankton community structure were found, however this was not related to SST or NAO. A negative relationship occurred between herring abundance (0- and 1-group) and spring SST (0-group: p = 0.02, slope = -0.305 ± 0.125; 1-group: p = 0.04, slope = -0.410 ± 0.193). Seabird demographics showed complex species-specific responses. There was evidence of direct effects of spring NAO (on black-legged kittiwake population growth rate: p = 0.03, slope = 0.0314 ± 0.014) as well as indirect bottom-up effects of lagged spring SST (on razorbill breeding success: p = 0.01, slope = -0.144 ± 0.05). Negative relationships between breeding success and population growth rate of razorbills and common guillemots may be explained by interactions between mid-trophic level fish. Our findings show that the impacts of climate change on the Celtic Sea ecosystem is not as marked as in nearby regions (e.g. the North Sea), emphasizing the need for more research at regional scales.
Project description:The Kuroshio Extension (KE) exhibits prominent decadal fluctuations that enhance the low-frequency variability of North Pacific climate. Using available observations, we show evidence that a preferred decadal timescale in the KE emerges from the interaction between KE and the central tropical Pacific via Meridional Modes. Specifically, we show that changes in the KE states apply a persistent downstream atmospheric response (e.g. wind stress curl, 0-12 months timescales) that projects on the atmospheric forcing of the Pacific Meridional Modes (PMM) over 9 months timescales. Subsequently, the PMM energizes the central tropical Pacific El Niño Southern Oscillation (CP-ENSO) and its atmospheric teleconnections back to the Northern Hemisphere (1-3 months timescale), which in turn excites oceanic Rossby waves in the central/eastern North Pacific that propagate westward changing the KE (~3 years timescales). Consistent with this hypothesis, the cross-correlation function between the KE and the PMM/CP-ENSO indices exhibits a significant sinusoidal shape corresponding to a preferred spectral power at decadal timescales (~10 years). This dynamics pathway (KE?PMM/CP-ENSO?KE) may provide a new mechanistic basis to explain the preferred decadal-timescale of the North Pacific and enhance decadal predictability of Pacific climate.
Project description:Climate teleconnections drive highly variable and synchronous seed production (masting) over large scales. Disentangling the effect of high-frequency (inter-annual variation) from low-frequency (decadal trends) components of climate oscillations will improve our understanding of masting as an ecosystem process. Using century-long observations on masting (the MASTREE database) and data on the Northern Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), we show that in the last 60 years both high-frequency summer and spring NAO, and low-frequency winter NAO components are highly correlated to continent-wide masting in European beech and Norway spruce. Relationships are weaker (non-stationary) in the early twentieth century. This finding improves our understanding on how climate variation affects large-scale synchronization of tree masting. Moreover, it supports the connection between proximate and ultimate causes of masting: indeed, large-scale features of atmospheric circulation coherently drive cues and resources for masting, as well as its evolutionary drivers, such as pollination efficiency, abundance of seed dispersers, and natural disturbance regimes.
Project description:Annually laminated stalagmites can be used to construct a precise chronology, and variations in laminae thickness provide an annual growth-rate record that can be used as a proxy for past climate and environmental change. Here, we present and analyse the first composite speleothem annual growth-rate record based on five stalagmites from the same cave system in northwest Scotland, where precipitation is sensitive to North Atlantic climate variability and the winter North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). Our 3000-year record confirms persistently low growth-rates, reflective of positive NAO states, during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA). Another persistently low growth period occurring at 290-550?CE coincides with the European Migration Period, and a subsequent period of sustained fast growth-rate (negative NAO) from 600-900?AD provides the climate context for the Viking Age in northern and western Europe.