Collaborative Research: P2C2 - Insights Into Tropical Pacific Climate From Paleoproxy Data Assimilation Into an Intermediate Complexity Dynamical Model

Lead PI: Dr. Alexey Kaplan , Prof. Mark A. Cane , Dr. Edward R. Cook , Braddock Linsley

Unit Affiliation: Ocean and Climate Physics, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

June 2020 - May 2023
Pacific Ocean
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: This project broadly seeks to reconstruct and interpret the state of the tropical Pacific over the last millennium in response to radiative forcing. This will be accomplished by assimilating high-resolution paleo-proxies from corals and trees into a dynamical El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) model.

Dynamically informed paleo-reconstructions will be studied to address the following science questions: (i) how does the tropical Pacific respond to external radiative forcing (ERF); (ii) does ENSO exhibit regime-like behavior and is ENSO irregularity primarily due to chaotic or to noise-driven dynamics; (iii) how has ENSO varied in the past; and (iv) can a dynamical ENSO model improve paleo-proxy reconstructions of the tropical Pacific.

These questions have implications for predictability and decadal variability and are relevant to understanding ENSO and its impacts, past, present and future. Adding information into paleoclimate reconstructions from a dynamical model of ENSO with documented predictive skill is a novel approach and may enhance interpretation of Tropical Pacific proxy records.

The potential Broader Impacts include improved understanding of ENSO behavior over time, support of undergraduate students in the research project, and outreach to the public through well-established outreach efforts at Columbia University and the University of Maryland.