Marine Science Faculty Publications

Subtropical Hydroclimate during Termination V (∼430-422 ka): Annual Records of Extreme Precipitation, Drought, and Interannual Variability from Santa Barbara Basin

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Quaternary, Paleoclimatology, North America, Sedimentology-marine cores, Termination V, North Pacific, Interannual hydroclimate, El Niño-Southern Oscillation

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Hydroclimate extremes are expected to become more frequent and intense with anthropogenic climate forcing, but future El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) behavior is unclear. Understanding of extreme hydroclimate variability and magnitude prior to human-influences is limited by short instrumental records, however, continuous sedimentary archives of past hydroclimate variability can complement and extend these records. Laminated Santa Barbara Basin (SBB) sediment cores MV0508-33JPC, −21JPC, and −29JPC preserve annually-resolved, multi-centennial-scale precipitation records from Termination V (TV), the transition from glacial Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 12 to interglacial MIS 11 at 424 ka. These records provide insights into the subtropical hydroclimate response to warming. Foraminiferal δ18O variations indicate rapid warming and/or salinity changes, and were used to verify the TV age assignment. A paleoprecipitation proxy was developed using the first principal component of scanning XRF elemental counts (PC1), which has high loadings for siliciclastic sediment-associated elements K, Ti, and Si. Sedimentary laminae couplets identified in PC1 were annually-tuned to investigate TV paleoprecipitation variability, as modern SBB laminae represent annual deposits. Extreme flooding and decadal-to-centennial droughts were identified, with magnitudes exceeding modern observations. ENSO-like (2–7 year) paleoprecipitation periodicities coincide with wetter intervals, but ENSO variability is reduced during droughts. A 1500-year arid interval may be related to poleward shifting of general atmospheric circulation as ice sheets melted, such that the subtropical dry zone intersected California. Southern California paleoprecipitation reconstructions from past warm climates provide insight into precipitation variability and magnitude on interannual timescales, and can reduce uncertainties in predictions of interannual climate, including ENSO.

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Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 191, p. 73-88