Report

ENSO Drove 2500-Year Collapse of Eastern Pacific Coral Reefs

Science  06 Jul 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6090, pp. 81-84
DOI: 10.1126/science.1221168

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Abstract

Cores of coral reef frameworks along an upwelling gradient in Panamá show that reef ecosystems in the tropical eastern Pacific collapsed for 2500 years, representing as much as 40% of their history, beginning about 4000 years ago. The principal cause of this millennial-scale hiatus in reef growth was increased variability of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and its coupling with the Intertropical Convergence Zone. The hiatus was a Pacific-wide phenomenon with an underlying climatology similar to probable scenarios for the next century. Global climate change is probably driving eastern Pacific reefs toward another regional collapse.

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