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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2019-73
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2019-73
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 27 Jun 2019

Submitted as: research article | 27 Jun 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

Can we use sea surface temperature and productivity proxy records to reconstruct Ekman Upwelling?

Anson Cheung, Baylor Fox-Kemper, and Timothy Herbert Anson Cheung et al.
  • Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA

Abstract. Marine sediments have greatly improved our understanding of the climate system, but their interpretation often assumes that certain climate mechanisms operate consistently over all timescales of interest and that variability at one or few sample sites is representative of an oceanographic province. In this study, we test these assumptions using modern observations in an idealized manner mimicking paleo-reconstruction to investigate whether sea surface temperature and productivity proxy records in the Southern California Current System can be used to reconstruct Ekman upwelling. The method uses Extended Empirical Orthogonal Function (EEOF) analysis of covariation of alongshore windstress, chlorophyll and sea surface temperature as measured by satellites from 2002 to 2009. We find that EEOF1 does not reflect an Ekman upwelling pattern, but instead much broader California Current processes. EEOF2 and 3 reflect upwelling patterns, but these patterns are timescale dependent and are regional. Thus, the skill of using one site to reconstruct the large scale dominant patterns is spatially dependent. Lastly, we show that using multiple sites and/or multiple variables generally improve field reconstruction. These results together suggest caution is needed when attempting to extrapolate mechanisms that may be important on seasonal time scales (e.g. Ekman upwelling) to deeper time, but also the advantage of having multiple proxy records.

Anson Cheung et al.
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Anson Cheung et al.
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Short summary
We test two assumptions that are often made in paleoclimate studies by using observations and ask whether temperature and productivity proxy records in the Southern California Current can be used to reconstruct Ekman upwelling. By examining the covariation between alongshore windstress, temperature, and productivity, we found that the dominant covarying pattern does not reflect Ekman upwelling. Other upwelling patterns found are timescale dependent. Multiple proxies can improve reconstruction.
We test two assumptions that are often made in paleoclimate studies by using observations and...
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