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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-2019-9
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2019-9
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 01 Mar 2019

Research article | 01 Mar 2019

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

On the validity of foraminifera-based ENSO reconstructions

Brett Metcalfe1,2, Bryan C. Lougheed1,3, Claire Waelbroeck1, and Didier M. Roche1,2 Brett Metcalfe et al.
  • 1Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, LSCE/IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris-Saclay, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 2Earth and Climate Cluster, Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, de Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 3Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Villavägen 16, 75236 Uppsala, Sweden

Abstract. A complete understanding of past El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) fluctuations is important for the future predictions of regional climate using climate models. Reconstructions of past ENSO dynamics use carbonate oxygen isotope ratios (δ18Oc) and trace metal geochemistry (Mg / Ca) recorded by planktonic foraminifera to reconstruct past spatiotemporal changes in upper ocean conditions. We investigate whether planktonic foraminifera-based proxies offer sufficient spatiotemporal continuity with which to reconstruct past ENSO dynamics. Concentrating upon the period of the instrumental record, we use the Foraminifera as Modelled Entities model to statistically test whether or not δ18Oc and the Temperature signal (Tc) in planktonic foraminifera directly records the ENSO cycle. Our results show that it is possible to use δ18Oc from foraminifera to disentangle the ENSO signal only in certain parts of the Pacific Ocean. Furthermore, a large proportion of these areas coincide with sea-floor regions exhibiting a low sedimentation rate and/or water depth below the carbonate compensation depth, thus precluding the extraction of a temporally valid palaeoclimate signal using long-standing palaeoceanographic methods.

Brett Metcalfe et al.
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DATA: On the validity of foraminifera-based ENSO reconstructions Data set B. Metcalfe, B. C. Lougheed, C. Waelbroeck, and D. M. Roche https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.2554843

Brett Metcalfe et al.
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Short summary
Planktonic foraminifera construct a shell that, post mortem, settles to the seafloor, prior to collection by Palaeoclimatologists for use as proxies. Such organisms in life are sensitive to the ambient conditions (e.g., temperature, salinity), which therefore means our proxies are skewed toward the organisms ecology. We test how this may affect proxies used for reconstructing the ENSO and how the past is recorded in ocean sediments, highlighting the problems associated with such reconstructions.
Planktonic foraminifera construct a shell that, post mortem, settles to the seafloor, prior to...
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