Millennial and orbital variations of El Niño/Southern Oscillation and high-latitude climate in the last glacial period
The El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon is believed to have operated continuously over the last glacial-interglacial cycle. ENSO variability has been suggested to be linked to millennial-scale oscillations in North Atlantic climate during that time, but the proposals disagree on whether increased frequency of El Niño events, the warm phase of ENSO, was linked to North Atlantic warm or cold periods. Here we present a high-resolution record of surface moisture, based on the degree of peat humification and the ratio of sedges to grass, from northern Queensland, Australia, covering the past 45,000yr. We observe millennial-scale dry periods, indicating periods of frequent El Niño events (summer precipitation declines in El Niño years in northeastern Australia). We find that these dry periods are correlated to the Dansgaard-Oeschger events-millennial-scale warm events in the North Atlantic climate record-although no direct atmospheric connection from the North Atlantic to our site can be invoked. Additionally, we find climatic cycles at a semiprecessional timescale (~11,900yr). We suggest that climate variations in the tropical Pacific Ocean on millennial as well as orbital timescales, which determined precipitation in northeastern Australia, also exerted an influence on North Atlantic climate through atmospheric and oceanic teleconnections.