Pronounced interannual variability in tropical South Pacific temperatures during Heinrich Stadial 1

Thomas Felis, Ute Merkel, Ryuji Asami, Pierre Deschamps, Ed C. Hathorne, Martin Kölling, Edouard Bard, Guy Cabioch, Nicolas Durand, Matthias Prange, Michael Schulz, Sri Yudawati Cahyarini, Miriam Pfeiffer

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26 Citations (Scopus)


The early last glacial termination was characterized by intense North Atlantic cooling and weak overturning circulation. This interval between ∼18,000 and 14,600 years ago, known as Heinrich Stadial 1, was accompanied by a disruption of global climate and has been suggested as a key factor for the termination. However, the response of interannual climate variability in the tropical Pacific (El Ni ±o-Southern Oscillation) to Heinrich Stadial 1 is poorly understood. Here we use Sr/Ca in a fossil Tahiti coral to reconstruct tropical South Pacific sea surface temperature around 15,000 years ago at monthly resolution. Unlike today, interannual South Pacific sea surface temperature variability at typical El Ni ±o-Southern Oscillation periods was pronounced at Tahiti. Our results indicate that the El Ni ±o-Southern Oscillation was active during Heinrich Stadial 1, consistent with climate model simulations of enhanced El Ni ±o-Southern Oscillation variability at that time. Furthermore, a greater El Ni ±o-Southern Oscillation influence in the South Pacific during Heinrich Stadial 1 is suggested, resulting from a southward expansion or shift of El Ni ±o-Southern Oscillation sea surface temperature anomalies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number965
JournalNature communications
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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