Coral Sr/Ca records provide realistic representation of eastern Indian Ocean cooling during extreme positive Indian Ocean Dipole events

Extreme positive Indian Ocean Dipole (pIOD) events are amplified by non-linear ocean-atmosphere interactions and are characterized by pronounced cooling in the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean. These non-linear feedbacks are not adequately represented in historical products of sea surface temperatures that underestimate the magnitude of extreme pIOD events. Here, we present a sea surface temperature (SST) reconstruction based on monthly coral Sr/Ca ratios measured in two coral cores from Enggano Island (Indonesia), that lies in the eastern pole of the IOD. The coral SST reconstruction extends from 1930 to 2008 and captures the magnitude of cooling during extreme pIOD events as shown in recent satellite and reanalysis data of SST that include ocean dynamics. The corals indicate that the 1961 pIOD event was at least as severe as the 1997 event, while the 1963 pIOD was more comparable to the 2006 event. The magnitude 1967 pIOD is difficult to assess at present due to poor replication between coral cores, and may be comparable to either 1997 or 2006. Cooling during the 1972 pIOD was short-lived and followed by pronounced warming, as seen in the moderate pIOD event of 1982. A combination of coral SST reconstructions and an extension of new reanalysis products of SST to historical time scales could help to better assess the severity and impact of past pIOD events such as the ones seen in the 1960s.


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