Multiproxy Reduced-Dimension Reconstruction of Pliocene Equatorial Pacific Sea Surface Temperatures
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Multiproxy Reduced-Dimension Reconstruction of Pliocene Equatorial Pacific Sea Surface Temperatures

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  • Journal Title:
    Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology
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    A controversial aspect of the Pliocene climate system is a posited permanent sea surface temperature (SST) distribution resembling that during El Niño events, which is largely inferred from sea surface temperatures reconstructed from several sites in the equatorial Pacific. We utilize a reduced-dimension methodology on a compilation of previously published multiproxy (Mg/Ca, Uk′37, TEX86, and foraminifer assemblages) Pliocene SST records from the equatorial Pacific to reconstruct spatial and temporal snapshots of SST anomalies and a time series of Niño indices from 5 to 1 Ma. The use of multiple proxies increases the number of study sites and thereby improves the robustness of the reconstruction. We find that the early Pliocene equatorial Pacific was characterized by a reduced zonal SST difference due to minimal change in the west and extreme warmth in the east which peaked at 4.3 Ma. The intensity of this mean El Niño-like SST state then gradually diminished toward modern conditions. We also use the Pliocene Niño 4 time series to estimate the past strength of Indian Summer Monsoon given the modern correlation of it to the Niño 4 index. Results indicate the monsoon was weaker throughout the study interval with weakest conditions (~37% less rainfall than modern) occurring at 4.3 Ma, congruent with regional proxy records. In summation, this reduced-dimension approach spatially and temporally resolves the warm mean state of the Pliocene equatorial Pacific and has numerous applications to inferences of paleoclimate conditions in distal regions teleconnected to El Niño today.
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    Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology, 35: e2019PA003685
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