Eight Centuries of North Atlantic Ocean Atmosphere Variability

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Science  26 Nov 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5445, pp. 1709-1713
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5445.1709

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Climate in the tropical North Atlantic is controlled largely by variations in the strength of the trade winds, the position of the Intertropical Convergence Zone, and sea surface temperatures. A high-resolution study of Caribbean sediments provides a subdecadally resolved record of tropical upwelling and trade wind variability spanning the past 825 years. These results confirm the importance of a decadal (12- to 13-year) mode of Atlantic variability believed to be driven by coupled tropical ocean-atmosphere dynamics. Although a well-defined interdecadal mode of variability does not appear to be characteristic of the tropical Atlantic, there is evidence that century-scale variability is substantial. The tropical Atlantic may also have been involved in a major shift in Northern Hemisphere climate variability that took place about 700 years ago.

  • * Present address: Department of Geological Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, USA.

  • Present address: Institute for the Study of Planet Earth, Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.

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