One Thousand Three Hundred Years of Variability in the Position of the South Pacific Convergence Zone

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Geophysical Research Letters, 2020, 47, (17)
Issue Date:
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The South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ) is the largest rain belt in the Southern Hemisphere and a key driver of precipitation variability, impacting South Pacific island communities. Our millennial-long reconstruction is based on a trans-Pacific tree-ring network, containing chronologies sensitive to changes in the SPCZ because of its pervasive nature, spatial extent, and link to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. The reconstruction explains 58% of variance in the instrumental SPCZ index from 1911–1998. El Niño-Southern Oscillation cycles are identified throughout the reconstruction period. Multidecadal periodicities wax and wane, coinciding with a sustained eastward shift during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (~1,000–1,200 CE). We find large volcanic eruptions increased the tendency for the SPCZ to be displaced eastward. The reconstruction helps improve our understanding of past hydroclimatic behavior in the southwest Pacific and can be used to validate general circulation model projections for Pacific Island communities and the wider region in the 21st century.
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