Trends and variability in the Southern Annular Mode over the Common Era

Jonathan King, Kevin J. Anchukaitis, Kathryn Allen, Tessa Vance, Amy Hessl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Southern Annular Mode (SAM) is the leading mode of atmospheric variability in the extratropical Southern Hemisphere and has wide ranging effects on ecosystems and societies. Despite the SAM’s importance, paleoclimate reconstructions disagree on its variability and trends over the Common Era, which may be linked to variability in SAM teleconnections and the influence of specific proxies. Here, we use data assimilation with a multi-model prior to reconstruct the SAM over the last 2000 years using temperature and drought-sensitive climate proxies. Our method does not assume a stationary relationship between the SAM and the proxy records and allows us to identify critical paleoclimate records and quantify reconstruction uncertainty through time. We find no evidence for a forced response in SAM variability prior to the 20th century. We do find the modern positive trend falls outside the 2σ range of the prior 2000 years at multidecadal time scales, supporting the inference that the SAM’s positive trend over the last several decades is a response to anthropogenic climate change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2324
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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