Climate Program Office News

Changes in ocean salinity lead to ITCZ migration

  • 13 May 2022
Changes in ocean salinity lead to ITCZ migration

The Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) is a well-defined zonally-oriented band of high precipitation, which strongly influences rainfall patterns in the tropics. Although it is centered a few degrees to the north of the equator, it meanders north-south depending on the season. ITCZ behavior is better studied and analyzed by long-term oceanic records, but observational data are still limited in temporal extent. Shallow-water corals can be more useful, as they provide seasonally-resolved archives of climate variability over the tropical ocean. CPO’s Climate Variability and Predictability (CVP) program-funded PI K.H. Kilbourne (UMD-CES), was part of an international group of researchers that further explored the usefulness of these archives.

The group used oxygen and carbon isotope data from a coral reef in northeastern Brazil to assess changes in both  sea surface salinity (SSS) and ITCZ position. This dataset allowed researchers to present the first century-long coral isotopic record from the western tropical South Atlantic. The results of the study, published in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, suggest a major sea-surface freshening during the mid-20th century, and an ITCZ southward migration due to changes in Atlantic sea-surface temperatures. 

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For more information, contact Jose Algarin.

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About the Climate Program Office

The Climate Program Office (CPO) manages competitive research programs in which NOAA funds high-priority climate science, assessments, decision support research, outreach, education, and capacity-building activities designed to advance our understanding of Earth’s climate system, and to foster the application of this knowledge in risk management and adaptation efforts.  CPO-supported research is conducted in regions across the United States, at national and international scales, and globally.  Learn more...

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