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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 7, issue 2 | Copyright

Special issue: Retrospective views on our planet's future – PAGES Open...

Clim. Past, 7, 339-347, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-7-339-2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  04 Apr 2011

04 Apr 2011


Solar-forced shifts of the Southern Hemisphere Westerlies during the Holocene

V. Varma1, M. Prange1,2, F. Lamy2,3, U. Merkel2, and M. Schulz1,2 V. Varma et al.
  • 1Department of Geosciences, University of Bremen, 28334 Bremen, Germany
  • 2MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, Leobener Strasse, 28359 Bremen, Germany
  • 3Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, 27568 Bremerhaven, Germany

Abstract. The Southern Hemisphere Westerly Winds (SWW) constitute an important zonal circulation that influences large-scale precipitation patterns and ocean circulation. Variations in their intensity and latitudinal position have been suggested to exert a strong influence on the CO2 budget in the Southern Ocean, thus making them a potential factor affecting the global climate. In the present study, the possible influence of solar forcing on SWW variability during the Holocene is addressed. It is shown that a high-resolution iron record from the Chilean continental slope (41° S), which is interpreted to reflect changes in the position of the SWW, is significantly correlated with reconstructed solar activity during the past 3000 years. In addition, solar sensitivity experiments with a comprehensive global climate model (CCSM3) were carried out to study the response of SWW to solar variability. Taken together, the proxy and model results suggest that centennial-scale periods of lower (higher) solar activity caused equatorward (southward) shifts of the annual mean SWW.

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