Coral-based reconstruction of surface salinity at Sabine Bank, Vanuatu
MetadataShow full item record
A monthly resolved coral δ18O record from Sabine Bank, Vanuatu (SBV; 166.04° E, 15.94°S), extending from 2006 to 1929 CE, is used to assess the influence of sea surface salinity (SSS) on the oxygen isotopic composition of coral aragonite at this location. Monthly SSS anomalies at SBV between 2006 and 1970 are strongly correlated with monthly anomalies in sea surface temperature (SST) variations in the central Pacific cold tongue, as recorded by SST anomalies in the Niño 3.4 grid box (i.e., canonical record of ENSO variability, r = 0.68, p < 0.01; lag of 6 months). This relationship demonstrates that SSS in the waters offshore of Vanuatu respond to ENSO-driven changes in the coupled ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific. SBV coral δ18O is also strongly correlated with monthly instrumental SSS anomalies at Vanuatu (r = 0.71, p < 0.01), therefore SBV coral δ18O variations are driven by the ENSO-related changes in surface ocean conditions. A calibration-verification exercise using SBV coral δ18O values and instrumental SSS was performed over the period 2006-1970 CE. A statistically robust transfer function was determined and used to predict SSS at SBV back to 1929 CE. The coral δ18O and SSS relationship at Vanuatu is further evaluated via comparison with a coral δ18O record from Malo Channel, Vanuatu, a site that is 130 km to the east of SBV. The strong correlation between the two coral δ18O records (r = 0.70; p < 0.01) suggests that ENSO drives regional changes in SSS in this region and that such changes can be reconstructed using variations in skeletal δ18O of corals.