Understanding Abrupt, Natural Climate Variability Post-Industrial Revolution from the Subtropical Eastern Pacific: A Novel High Resolution Alkenone-derived Sea Surface Temperature Record

Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Christopher Sean Kelly1, Nicholas Alexander O'Mara1, Timothy Herbert1, Jose Luis Abella-Gutiérrez2 and Juan Carlos Herguera3, (1)Brown University, Providence, RI, United States, (2)CICESE National Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education of Mexico, Ensenada, Mexico, (3)CICESE, San Diego, CA, United States
Despite the ocean's importance in global biogeochemical feedbacks and heat storage, there is still a paucity of decadally-resolved sea surface temperature (SST) records to complement lacustrine and dendrological records of recent paleoclimate. Natural climate variability on multidecadal timescales is dominated by internal ocean circulation dynamics and feedbacks, and it is therefore imperative to employ marine proxies to reconstruct high resolution climate change. The timescales of this ocean-induced natural climate variability can be broken down into a few characteristic climate modes. Pressing questions about these modes include their stationarity in frequency and amplitude over time, in addition to the hypothesis that anthropogenic climate change has altered their behavior in comparison to natural variability. To pursue these questions, we must discern and analyze suitable climate archives in regions where modes of interest dominate modern climate variability. The region of Baja California, Mexico exhibits exceptional teleconnection to the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). Local, dramatic effects of ENSO and PDO on the marine biology and economy underline the importance of regional paleoclimate records from the Baja peninsula.

Here, we present a high-resolution alkenone-derived SST reconstruction from the Industrial Revolution through the year 2000 by analysis of laminated box and Kasten sediment cores at Site PCM 00-78 (25.18°N, 112.66°W) in the subtropical eastern Pacific at a depth of 540 meters. Our SST record corresponds with NOAA extended reconstructed sea surface temperature, providing a robust basis for organic geochemical marine climatic reconstructions on timescales usually accessible only through speleothems, coral density bands, tree rings, and the like. Accordingly, based on this comparison to the historical data we expect our SST record may provide a more robust record of inter and multidecadal eastern Pacific variability than far-flung teleconnected terrestrial paleoclimatic proxies, Indeed, our alkenone-reconstructed SST record is positively correlated to the PDO index. However, correlation with indices representing ENSO appears weaker, perhaps as a result of proxy limitations.