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EPSL:Isotopic evidence for twentieth-century weakening of the Pacific Walker circulation


Zhongfang Liua, Zhimin Jiana, Christopher J.Poulsenb, LiangZhaoc


a State Key Laboratory of Marine Geology, Tongji University, Shanghai, China

b Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

c Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China



The strength of the Pacific Walker circulation (WC) over the historical period is uncertain and strongly debated, largely due to the limited length of reliable instrumental records. Tropical Pacific corals provide continuous, highly-resolved records that can be used to overcome the limitations of the instrumental records. Here we combine coral

O records from the western Pacific Warm Pool (WPWP) and tropical central-eastern Pacific (CEP) to develop a coral WC index back to 1886. Our coral WC index is in good agreement with post-1950 instrumental records, justifying both a direct comparison with earlier instrumental records and an evaluation of twentieth century WC trends. Our results show that pre-1950 instrumental records appear to underestimate WC variability. The coral WC index reveals a significant weakening of the WC over the twentieth century in response to development of El Ni?o like SST pattern in the tropical Pacific and enhanced hydrological cycle over the CEP under greenhouse warming. Our results provide new evidence for twentieth century WC variability and offer an observational constraint for improving models and their prediction of future WC behavior.


Fig. 3Comparisons of the coral δ18O records with instrumental WC and Ni?o 3.4 indices. (A) Composite time series of the July–December coral δ18O anomalies over the WPWP and CEP (inverted), respectively. (B–D) The coral WC index (Δδ18O) defined by the east–west difference in δ18O anomalies in (A), along with instrumental WC indices based on observational (B) SLP data, (C) SST data, and (D) Ni?o 3.4 indices (inverted).


Full articlehttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2018.12.002


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