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Interdecadal modulation of the relationship between ENSO, IPO and precipitation: insights from tree rings in Australia

Heinrich, Ingo, Weidner, Kathrin, Helle, Gerhard, Vos, Heinz, Lindesay, Janette, Banks, John C. G.
Climate dynamics 2009 v.33 no.1 pp. 63-73
El Nino, Toona ciliata, atmospheric precipitation, climate, corals, data collection, dendroclimatology, forests, growth rings, luminescence, trees, Australasian region, Australia, Great Barrier Reef
Australian climate-proxy reconstructions based on tree rings from tropical and subtropical forests have not been achieved so far due to the rarity of species producing anatomically distinct annual growth rings. Our study identifies the Australian Red Cedar (Toona ciliata) as one of the most promising tree species for tree-ring research in Australasia because this species exhibits distinct annual tree rings, a prerequisite for high quality tropical dendroclimatology. Based on these preliminary studies, we were able, for the first time in subtropical and tropical Australia, to develop a statistically robust, precisely dated and annually resolved chronology back to AD1854. We show that the variability in ring widths of T. ciliata is mainly dependent on annual precipitation. The developed proxy data series contains both high- and low-frequency climate signals which can be associated with the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO). A comparison of different data sets (Brisbane precipitation, tree rings, coral luminescence record from the Great Barrier Reef, ENSO and IPO) revealed non-stationary correlation patterns throughout the twentieth century but little instability between the new tree-ring chronology and Brisbane precipitation.