An El Niño Mode in the Glacial Indian Ocean?

Kaustubh Thirumalai, Pedro N. DiNezio, Jessica E. Tierney, Martin Puy, Mahyar Mohtadi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Despite minor variations in sea surface temperature (SST) compared to other tropical regions, coupled ocean-atmosphere dynamics in the Indian Ocean cause widespread drought, wildfires, and flooding. It is unclear whether changes in the Indian Ocean mean state can support stronger SST variability and climatic extremes. Here we focus on the Last Glacial Maximum (19,000–21,000 years before present) when background oceanic conditions could have been favorable for stronger variability. Using individual foraminiferal analyses and climate model simulations, we find that seasonal and interannual SST variations in the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean were much larger during this glacial period relative to modern conditions. The increase in year-to-year variance is consistent with the emergence of an equatorial mode of climate variability, which strongly resembles the Pacific El Niño and is currently not active in the Indian Ocean.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1316-1327
Number of pages12
JournalPaleoceanography and Paleoclimatology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Palaeontology


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