Recent enhancement of central Pacific El Niño variability relative to last eight centuries

Yu Liu, Kim M. Cobb, Huiming Song, Qiang Li, Ching Yao Li, Takeshi Nakatsuka, Zhisheng An, Weijian Zhou, Qiufang Cai, Jinbao Li, Steven W. Leavitt, Changfeng Sun, Ruochen Mei, Chuan Chou Shen, Ming Hsun Chan, Junyan Sun, Libin Yan, Ying Lei, Yongyong Ma, Xuxiang LiDeliang Chen, Hans W. Linderholm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


The far-reaching impacts of central Pacific El Niño events on global climate differ appreciably from those associated with eastern Pacific El Niño events. Central Pacific El Niño events may become more frequent in coming decades as atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations rise, but the instrumental record of central Pacific sea-surface temperatures is too short to detect potential trends. Here we present an annually resolved reconstruction of NIÑO4 sea-surface temperature, located in the central equatorial Pacific, based on oxygen isotopic time series from Taiwan tree cellulose that span from 1190 AD to 2007 AD. Our reconstruction indicates that relatively warm Niño4 sea-surface temperature values over the late twentieth century are accompanied by higher levels of interannual variability than observed in other intervals of the 818-year-long reconstruction. Our results imply that anthropogenic greenhouse forcing may be driving an increase in central Pacific El Niño-Southern Oscillation variability and/or its hydrological impacts, consistent with recent modelling studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number15386
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - May 30 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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