Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

2011

Abstract

A more thorough understanding of regional to hemispheric hydroclimate variability and associated climate patterns is needed in order to validate climate models and project future conditions. In this study, two annually laminated (varved) sediment records spanning the last millennium were analyzed from Rhode Island and New York. Lamination thickness time series from the two locations are significantly correlated to hydroclimate indicators over the period of instrument overlap, demonstrating their usefulness in reconstructing past conditions. Both records are correlated to climate teleconnection indices, most strongly the Pacific/North American (PNA) pattern, suggesting regional to hemispheric influences on hydroclimate. Such a linkage is interpreted to be due to tropospheric circulation patterns in which positive PNA periods are associated with meridional circulation, leading to the dominance of southern moist air masses in the Northeast United States. Alternatively, the zonal flow over North America associated with negative PNA periods produces dominant dry continental air masses over the region. A composite record from the two locations reveals variability of hydroclimate and atmospheric circulation over the late Holocene and shows similarities to previously published reconstructions of the circumpolar vortex and of the Aleutian Low-pressure system, supporting the hypothesized PNA linkage. The record is correlated to continental-scale droughts, many of which have been reconstructed in the American Southwest. These results demonstrate the PNA’s influence on hydroclimate over North America, and suggest that this teleconnected pattern may have a significant role in continental drought dynamics.

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