El Niño during the Last Interglacial Period recorded by a fossil coral from Indonesia



Measurements of oxygen isotopes and elemental ratios in a fossil coral that grew 124,000 years ago in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, reflect interannual variability in precipitation and sea surface temperature (SST) due to the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). This indicates that ENSO was robust during the last interglacial period, a time when global climate was slightly warmer than the present. The pattern of ENSO frequency behavior in the past is similar to variability in modern instrumental records, but distinct from the most recent period since the mid-1970s, supporting the hypothesis that ENSO behavior in recent decades is anomalous with respect to natural variability.