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Holocene El Niño–Southern Oscillation variability reflected in subtropical Australian precipitation


Barr, C and Tibby, J and Leng, MJ and Tyler, JJ and Henderson, ACG and Overpeck, JT and Simpson, GL and Cole, JE and Phipps, SJ and Marshall, JC and McGregor, GB and Hua, Q and McRobie, FH, Holocene El Nino-Southern Oscillation variability reflected in subtropical Australian precipitation, Scientific Reports, 9 Article 1627. ISSN 2045-2322 (2019) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2019 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1038/s41598-019-38626-3


The La Niña and El Niño phases of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) have major impacts on regional rainfall patterns around the globe, with substantial environmental, societal and economic implications. Long-term perspectives on ENSO behaviour, under changing background conditions, are essential to anticipating how ENSO phases may respond under future climate scenarios. Here, we derive a 7700-year, quantitative precipitation record using carbon isotope ratios from a single species of leaf preserved in lake sediments from subtropical eastern Australia. We find a generally wet (more La Niña-like) mid-Holocene that shifted towards drier and more variable climates after 3200 cal. yr BP, primarily driven by increasing frequency and strength of the El Niño phase. Climate model simulations implicate a progressive orbitally-driven weakening of the Pacific Walker Circulation as contributing to this change. At centennial scales, high rainfall characterised the Little Ice Age (~1450–1850 CE) in subtropical eastern Australia, contrasting with oceanic proxies that suggest El Niño-like conditions prevail during this period. Our data provide a new western Pacific perspective on Holocene ENSO variability and highlight the need to address ENSO reconstruction with a geographically diverse network of sites to characterise how both ENSO, and its impacts, vary in a changing climate.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:ENSO, El Nino-Southern Oscillation, Holocene, climate variability, subtropics, Australia, precipitation
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Physical geography and environmental geoscience
Research Field:Palaeoclimatology
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Understanding climate change
Objective Field:Climate variability (excl. social impacts)
UTAS Author:Phipps, SJ (Dr Steven Phipps)
ID Code:130741
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:49
Deposited By:Oceans and Cryosphere
Deposited On:2019-02-08
Last Modified:2020-07-16
Downloads:67 View Download Statistics

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