Analyses of instrumental data demonstrate robust linkages between decadal-scale North Pacific and tropical Indo-Pacific climatic variability. These linkages encompass common regime shifts, including the noteworthy 1976 transition in Pacific climate. However, information on Pacific decadal variability and the tropical high-latitude climate connection is limited prior to the twentieth century. Herein tree-ring analysis is employed to extend the understanding of North Pacific climatic variability and related tropical linkages over the past four centuries. To this end, a tree-ring reconstruction of the December-May North Pacific index (NPI) - an index of the atmospheric circulation related to the Aleutian low pressure cell - is presented (1600-1983). The NPI reconstruction shows evidence for the three regime shifts seen in the instrumental NPI data, and for seven events in prior centuries. It correlates significantly with both instrumental tropical climate indices and a coral-based reconstruction of an optimal tropical Indo-Pacific climate index, supporting evidence for a tropical-North Pacific link extending as far west as the western Indian Ocean. The coral-based reconstruction (1781-1993) shows the twentieth-century regime shifts evident in the instrumental NPI and instrumental tropical Indo-Pacific climate index, and three previous shifts. Changes in the strength of correlation between the reconstructions over time, and the different identified shifts in both series prior to the twentieth century, suggest a varying tropical influence on North Pacific climate, with greater influence in the twentieth century. One likely mechanism is the low-frequency variability of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and its varying impact on Indo-Pacific climate.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atmospheric Science