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Variability of the Intertropical Convergence Zone recorded in coral isotopic records from the central indian Ocean (Chagos Archipelago)


We have analyzed the stable oxygen isotopic composition of two Porites corals from the Chagos Archipelago, which is situated in the geographical center of the Indian Ocean. Coral δ18O at this site reliably records temporal variations in precipitation associated with the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). Precipitation maxima occur in boreal winter, when the ITCZ forms a narrow band across the Indian Ocean. The Chagos then lies within the center of the ITCZ, and rainfall is strongly depleted in δ18O. A 120-yr coral isotopic record indicates an alternation of wet and dry intervals lasting 15 to 20 yr. The most recent 2 decades are dominated by interannual variability, which is tightly coupled to the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). This is unprecedented in the 120 yr of coral record. As the ITCZ is governed by atmospheric dynamics, this provides evidence of a major change in the coupled ENSO–monsoon system.

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*Corresponding author. Fax: +49 (0)431 600 2941.E-mail address: (M. Pfeiffer).
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Quaternary Research
  • ISSN: 0033-5894
  • EISSN: 1096-0287
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