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Madagascar corals track sea surface temperature variability in the Agulhas Current core region over the past 334 years

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Abstract

The Agulhas Current (AC) is the strongest western boundary current in the Southern Hemisphere and is key for weather and climate patterns, both regionally and globally. Its heat transfer into both the midlatitude South Indian Ocean and South Atlantic is of global significance. A new composite coral record (Ifaty and Tulear massive Porites corals), is linked to historical AC sea surface temperature (SST) instrumental data, showing robust correlations. The composite coral SST data start in 1660 and comprise 200 years more than the AC instrumental record. Numerical modelling exhibits that this new coral derived SST record is representative for the wider core region of the AC. AC SSTs variabilities show distinct cooling through the Little Ice Age and warming during the late 18(th), 19th and 20th century, with significant decadal variability superimposed. Furthermore, the AC SSTs are teleconnected with the broad southern Indian and Atlantic Oceans, showing that the AC system is pivotal for inter-ocean heat exchange south of Africa.

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