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Abrupt Decrease in Tropical Pacific Sea Surface Salinity at End of Little Ice Age

Science  22 Feb 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5559, pp. 1511-1514
DOI: 10.1126/science.1067693

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Abstract

A 420-year history of strontium/calcium, uranium/calcium, and oxygen isotope ratios in eight coral cores from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, indicates that sea surface temperature and salinity were higher in the 18th century than in the 20th century. An abrupt freshening after 1870 occurred simultaneously throughout the southwestern Pacific, coinciding with cooling tropical temperatures. Higher salinities between 1565 and 1870 are best explained by a combination of advection and wind-induced evaporation resulting from a strong latitudinal temperature gradient and intensified circulation. The global Little Ice Age glacial expansion may have been driven, in part, by greater poleward transport of water vapor from the tropical Pacific.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: erica.hendy{at}anu.edu.au

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