Variability and trends in the tropical Pacific and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation inferred from coral and lake archives

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/311122
Title:
Variability and trends in the tropical Pacific and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation inferred from coral and lake archives
Author:
Thompson, Diane Marie
Issue Date:
2013
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Embargo:
Release 01-Dec-2014
Abstract:
The background state and changes associated with the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the tropical Pacific Ocean influence climate patterns all over the world. Understanding how the tropical Pacific will be impacted by climate change is therefore critical to accurate regional climate projections. However, sparse historical data coverage and strong natural variability in the basin make it difficult to assess the response of the tropical Pacific to anthropogenic climate change. Further, climate models disagree regarding the response of the basin to continued anthropogenic forcing into the future. Building off of the limited instrumental record, high-resolution records from coral and lake sediment archives can be used to assess the response of the tropical Pacific to past climate changes and to compare and assess climate model projections. In the present study, I use high-resolution coral and lake records from the equatorial Pacific to assess climate model projections and the response of the coupled ocean-atmospheric climate system in the basin (ocean temperature, salinity, winds, precipitation) to natural and anthropogenic forcing. Using a simple model of how climate is recorded by corals, we compare historical climate data and climate model simulations with coral paleoclimate records to assess climate model projections and address uncertainties in the historical data, models and paleoclimate records. We demonstrate that this simple model is able to capture variability and trend observed in the coral records, and show that the both sea surface temperature and salinity contribute to the observed coral trend. However, we find major discrepancies in the observed and climate model simulated trends in the tropical Pacific that may be attributed to uncertainties in model simulated salinity. We then assess 20th-century variability and trends in SST and salinity in the central tropical Pacific using replicated coral δ¹⁸O and Sr/Ca records from the Republic of Kiribati and the central Line Islands. We find that the coral records from these sites display a warming and freshening trend superimposed on strong interannual and low-frequency variability. Further, we demonstrate an apparent strengthening of the E-W SST gradient across the dateline (between 173°E and 160°W) and a slight weakening of the N-S SST gradient due to enhanced warming along the equator and west of the dateline relative to other sites. However, we find no evidence of increased variability in the central Pacific, suggesting that there has not been an increase in central Pacific style ENSO events. Finally, we show that the salinity response to climate change may be very patchy within the basin. Using a new ~90 year coral Mn/Ca record from the central Pacific, we investigate variability and trends in tropical Pacific trade winds. First, we demonstrate a strong association between westerly wind anomalies and coral skeletal Mn/Ca, which recorded all of the major historical El Niño events of the 20th century. In this new long Mn/Ca record, we find a reduction in the amplitude and frequency of Mn/Ca pulses between 1893 and 1982, suggesting a decrease in westerly wind anomalies in the western equatorial Pacific Ocean. Finally, we use a sediment record from Bainbridge Crater Lake, Galápagos Archipelago to assess variability in the eastern tropical Pacific over the past ~6 thousand years. Based on results from long-term monitoring of the lake, we propose a new climate interpretation of the sediment record and find further evidence reduced mid-Holocene ENSO variability and a ramp up of ENSO variability starting around 1775 cal. years BP.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
Climate variability; Coral reefs; El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO); Lake sediments; tropical Pacific Ocean; Geosciences; Climate models
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Graduate College; Geosciences
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Cole, Julia E.

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoen_USen_US
dc.titleVariability and trends in the tropical Pacific and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation inferred from coral and lake archivesen_US
dc.creatorThompson, Diane Marieen_US
dc.contributor.authorThompson, Diane Marieen_US
dc.date.issued2013-
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.releaseRelease 01-Dec-2014en_US
dc.description.abstractThe background state and changes associated with the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the tropical Pacific Ocean influence climate patterns all over the world. Understanding how the tropical Pacific will be impacted by climate change is therefore critical to accurate regional climate projections. However, sparse historical data coverage and strong natural variability in the basin make it difficult to assess the response of the tropical Pacific to anthropogenic climate change. Further, climate models disagree regarding the response of the basin to continued anthropogenic forcing into the future. Building off of the limited instrumental record, high-resolution records from coral and lake sediment archives can be used to assess the response of the tropical Pacific to past climate changes and to compare and assess climate model projections. In the present study, I use high-resolution coral and lake records from the equatorial Pacific to assess climate model projections and the response of the coupled ocean-atmospheric climate system in the basin (ocean temperature, salinity, winds, precipitation) to natural and anthropogenic forcing. Using a simple model of how climate is recorded by corals, we compare historical climate data and climate model simulations with coral paleoclimate records to assess climate model projections and address uncertainties in the historical data, models and paleoclimate records. We demonstrate that this simple model is able to capture variability and trend observed in the coral records, and show that the both sea surface temperature and salinity contribute to the observed coral trend. However, we find major discrepancies in the observed and climate model simulated trends in the tropical Pacific that may be attributed to uncertainties in model simulated salinity. We then assess 20th-century variability and trends in SST and salinity in the central tropical Pacific using replicated coral δ¹⁸O and Sr/Ca records from the Republic of Kiribati and the central Line Islands. We find that the coral records from these sites display a warming and freshening trend superimposed on strong interannual and low-frequency variability. Further, we demonstrate an apparent strengthening of the E-W SST gradient across the dateline (between 173°E and 160°W) and a slight weakening of the N-S SST gradient due to enhanced warming along the equator and west of the dateline relative to other sites. However, we find no evidence of increased variability in the central Pacific, suggesting that there has not been an increase in central Pacific style ENSO events. Finally, we show that the salinity response to climate change may be very patchy within the basin. Using a new ~90 year coral Mn/Ca record from the central Pacific, we investigate variability and trends in tropical Pacific trade winds. First, we demonstrate a strong association between westerly wind anomalies and coral skeletal Mn/Ca, which recorded all of the major historical El Niño events of the 20th century. In this new long Mn/Ca record, we find a reduction in the amplitude and frequency of Mn/Ca pulses between 1893 and 1982, suggesting a decrease in westerly wind anomalies in the western equatorial Pacific Ocean. Finally, we use a sediment record from Bainbridge Crater Lake, Galápagos Archipelago to assess variability in the eastern tropical Pacific over the past ~6 thousand years. Based on results from long-term monitoring of the lake, we propose a new climate interpretation of the sediment record and find further evidence reduced mid-Holocene ENSO variability and a ramp up of ENSO variability starting around 1775 cal. years BP.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectClimate variabilityen_US
dc.subjectCoral reefsen_US
dc.subjectEl Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)en_US
dc.subjectLake sedimentsen_US
dc.subjecttropical Pacific Oceanen_US
dc.subjectGeosciencesen_US
dc.subjectClimate modelsen_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGeosciencesen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorCole, Julia E.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberCole, Julia E.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberOverpeck, Jonathan T.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberRussell, Joellenen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberBeck, Warrenen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberTudhope, Alexander W.en_US
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