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Pacific decadal variability over the last 2000 years and implications for climatic risk

Vance, TR ORCID: 0000-0001-6970-8646, Kiem, AS, Jong, LM ORCID: 0000-0001-6707-570X, Roberts, JL, Plummer, CT ORCID: 0000-0002-9765-5753, Moy, AD, Curran, MAJ and van Ommen, TD ORCID: 0000-0002-2463-1718 2022 , 'Pacific decadal variability over the last 2000 years and implications for climatic risk' , Communications Earth & Environment, vol. 3 , pp. 1-9 , doi:

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The Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation, an index which defines decadal climate variability throughout the Pacific, is generally assumed to have positive and negative phases that each last 20-30 years. Here we present a 2000-year reconstruction of the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation, obtained using information preserved in Antarctic ice cores, that shows negative phases are short (7 ± 5 years) and infrequent (occurring 10% of the time) departures from a predominantly neutral-positive state that lasts decades (61 ± 56 years). These findings suggest that Pacific Basin climate risk is poorly characterised due to over-representation of negative phases in post-1900 observations. We demonstrate the implications of this for eastern Australia, where drought risk is elevated during neutral-positive phases, and highlight the need for a re-evaluation of climate risk for all locations affected by the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation. The initiation and future frequency of negative phases should also be a research priority given their prevalence in more recent centuries.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Vance, TR and Kiem, AS and Jong, LM and Roberts, JL and Plummer, CT and Moy, AD and Curran, MAJ and van Ommen, TD
Keywords: drought, quantifying climatic risk, water resources, Australia
Journal or Publication Title: Communications Earth & Environment
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
ISSN: 2662-4435
DOI / ID Number:
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© The Author(s) 2022. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, (, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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