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Keywords:

  • tropical Pacific;
  • corals;
  • isotopes;
  • climate change

[1] Long records of subsurface ocean observations are key to constrain our understanding of the climate response of the tropical Pacific to increasing greenhouse gases. Due to the lack of continuous ocean observations, proxies become essential to estimate changes in the tropical thermocline related to changes in Walker circulation. Here, we present high resolution stable nitrogen (δ15N) and carbon (δ13C) isotope records from three proteinaceous corals spanning the top 105 m of the euphotic zone from an offshore Palauan reef in the western tropical Pacific. Dated with radiocarbon-derived growth chronologies, these isotope records indicate a shoaling of the mean nutricline and thus the thermocline as well, and a likely increase in primary productivity in the western tropical Pacific since the mid-to-late 1970s. Thus, these are the first subsurface proxy data extending below 20 m to support a slowdown of the tropical Pacific Walker circulation during the 20th Century.