North Pacific twentieth century decadal-scale variability is unique for the past 342 years

B. Williams*, J. Halfar, K. L. Delong, E. Smith, R. Steneck, P. A. Lebednik, D. E. Jacob, J. Fietzke, G. W. K. Moore

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)


    Reconstructed sea surface temperatures (SSTs) derived from Mg/Ca measurements in nine encrusting coralline algal skeletons from the Aleutian archipelago in the northernmost Pacific Ocean reveal an overall increase in SST from 1665 to 2007. In the Aleutian SST reconstruction, decadal-scale variability is a transient feature present during the 1700s and early 1800s and then fully emerging post-1950. SSTs vary coherently with available instrument records of cyclone variance and vacillate in and out of coherence with multicentennial Pacific Northwest drought reconstructions as a response to SST-driven alterations of storm tracks reaching North America. These results indicate that an influence of decadal-scale variability on the North Pacific storm tracks only became apparent during the midtwentieth century. Furthermore, what has been assumed as natural variability in the North Pacific, based on twentieth century instrumental data, is not consistent with the long-term natural variability evident in reconstructed SSTs predating the anthropogenic influence.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3761–3769
    Number of pages9
    JournalGeophysical Research Letters
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


    • Aleutian archipelago
    • Coralline algae
    • Decadal variability
    • Mg/Ca
    • North Pacific
    • Sea surface temperature


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