PALEOCEANOGRAPHY, VOL. 26, PA4224, 11 PP., 2011
Multidecadal variability and late medieval cooling of near-coastal sea surface temperatures in the eastern tropical North Atlantic
Monsoon season SST is reconstructed for the past 3 millennia
Over the past 1700 years, several intervals show multidecadal SST variability
Late medieval cooling amounts to approximately 0.5 degree Celsius
Henning Kuhnert et al
Multidecadal variations in Atlantic sea surface temperatures (SST) influence the climate of the Northern Hemisphere. However, prior to the instrumental time period, information on multidecadal climate variability becomes limited, and there is a particular scarcity of sufficiently resolved SST reconstructions. Here we present an eastern tropical North Atlantic reconstruction of SSTs based on foraminiferal Mg/Ca ratios that resolves multidecadal variability over the past 1700 years. Spectral power in the multidecadal band (50 to 70 years period) is significant over several time intervals suggesting that the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) has been influencing local SST. Since our data exhibit high scatter the absence of multidecadal variability in the remaining record does not exclude the possibility that SST variations on this time scale might have been present without being detected in our data. Cooling by ∼0.5°C takes place between about AD 1250 and AD 1500; while this corresponds to the inception of the Little Ice Age (LIA), the end of the LIA is not reflected in our record and SST remains relatively low. This transition to cooler SSTs parallels the previously reconstructed shift in the North Atlantic Oscillation toward a low pre-20th century mean state and possibly reflects common solar forcing.