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New COM-funded Research Uses Paleoclimatic Data To Explore Diverse ENSO Events over the Last Millennium

New research funded by COM dives into the ENSO events of the Last Millennium, in an effort to understand the climatic impacts on the North American continent. The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a major source of global climate variability. Its impact on sea surface temperature in turn, dictates atmospheric circulation over the tropical Pacific, and these atmospheric variations significantly impact the hydroclimate of the North American continent. Given the outlook of general climatic projections, understanding ENSO’s impact on climate is becoming more important than ever.

The research, published recently in Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology, uses a combination of paleoclimatic and instrumental data to more reliably quantify the impacts of variability in this interconnected system. The data sets were used to compare changes in frequency and intensity of diverse ENSO events in the pre-industrial period and the 20th century in different regions of the Pacific. 

The data reveal intensification of El Niño events in the Eastern Pacific, but no changes in Central Pacific frequency, in the 20th century. Regionally, the magnitude of hydroclimate teleconnections exhibits large natural variability on multi-decadal to centennial timescales. Overall, inconsistencies between classification methods of El Niño led the authors to the conclusion that more detailed, spatially-dependent classification models are needed to successfully conduct future research on ENSO diversity and precipitation teleconnections. 

Read the study »

For more information, contact Virginia Selz.

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