Evolution of Surface Water Conditions in the Gulf of California During the Past 2000 years: Implications for the North American Monsoon
Abstract:High-resolution analyses of diatoms, silicoflagellates, biogenic silica, and alkenones in laminated sediment cores from the Guaymas Basin (central Gulf of California) reveal pronounced changes in surface water conditions over the past 2000 years. Prior to ~AD 1200, surface waters in the western Guaymas Basin (boxcore MD02-2517c2 at 27.4850° N, 112.0743°W, water depth 887 m) were characterized by high biologic productivity with alternating assemblages of productive diatoms (Thalassionema nitzschioides, Fragilariopsis doliolus) and silicoflagellates (Octactis pulchra, Dictyocha stapedia). Beginning at ~ AD 1200 productivity declined abruptly in two steps (at ~AD 1200 and ~1500) that were marked by increases in the relative abundance of tropical diatoms and silicoflagellates.
In contrast, eastern Guaymas Basin Kasten Core BAM80 E-17 (27.920° N, 111.610°W, 620 m of water depth), was dominated by high biosiliceous productivity during the past 2000 years with increases corresponding to solar minima, arguing that an intensification of winter northwest winds drove coastal upwelling. In both Guaymas Basin records silicoflagellate assemblages suggest surface-water cooling during Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA; ~AD 800-1200) relative to the intervals before and after. Together, these records support a cooler La Niña-like MCA followed by a warmer El Niño-like Little Ice Age, similar to results obtained from the Santa Barbara Basin to the north.
During La Niñas, the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) occupies a more northerly position in the eastern tropical Pacific, facilitating summertime surges of Pacific tropical moisture up the Gulf and higher monsoonal precipitation in the southwestern US. A modeling study by Song Feng et al. (2008, JGR) of the broader MCA (AD 800-1300) utilizes La Niña-like Pacific sea surface temperatures to argues for an intensified North American Monsoon during the MCA. Limited terrestrial proxy records from Arizona and New Mexico are supportive.