Eocene El Niño: Evidence for Robust Tropical Dynamics in the "Hothouse"

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  07 Feb 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5608, pp. 877-881
DOI: 10.1126/science.1078766

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


Much uncertainty surrounds the interactions between the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and long-term global change. Past periods of extreme global warmth, exemplified by the Eocene (55 to 35 million years ago), provide a good testing ground for theories for this interaction. Here, we compare Eocene coupled climate model simulations with annually resolved variability records preserved in lake sediments. The simulations show Pacific deep-ocean and high-latitude surface warming of ∼10°C but little change in the tropical thermocline structure, atmosphere-ocean dynamics, and ENSO, in agreement with proxies. This result contrasts with theories linking past and future “hothouse” climates with a shift toward a permanent El Niño–like state.

  • * Present address: Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department, 1397 Engineering Building, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: huberm{at}

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science