Oct 25, 2019

Enhanced El Niño‐Southern Oscillation variability in recent decades

by
Pamela R. Grothe, Kim M. Cobb, Giovanni Liguori, Emanuele Di Lorenzo, Antonietta Capotondi, Yanbin Lu et al . . . Lauren T. Toth
,
Geophysical Research Letters

What we're seeing in the last 50 years is outside any natural variability. It leaps off the baseline. Actually, we even see this for the entire period of the industrial age.

– Kim Cobb, principal investigator, Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology


  • Recent modeling studies suggest El Niño will intensify due to greenhouse warming
  • Here, new coral reconstructions of the El Niño‐Southern Oscillation (ENSO) record sustained, significant changes in ENSO variability over the last 7,000yrs, and imply that ENSO extremes of the last 50 years are significantly stronger than those of the pre‐industrial era in the central tropical Pacific
  • These records suggest that El Niño events already may be intensifying due to anthropogenic climate change
  • Line Island corals provide 1,751 years of monthly‐resolved ENSO variability from the mid‐Holocene to present
  • ENSO strength is significantly weaker between 3,000 and 5,000 years ago compared to the 2,000‐year periods both before and after
  • ENSO extremes of the last 50 years are significantly stronger than those of the pre‐industrial era in the central tropical Pacific