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Observed relationships between El Niño-Southern Oscillation, rainfall variability and vegetation and fire history on Halmahera, Maluku, Indonesia

Authors

  • SANDER VAN DER KAARS,

    1. School of Geography and Environmental Science, PO Box 11A, Monash University, Vic 3800, Australia
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    • 1Present address: Department of Palynology and Climate Dynamics, University of Göttingen, Untere Karspüle 2, 37073 Göttingen, Germany.

  • NIGEL TAPPER,

    1. School of Geography and Environmental Science, PO Box 11A, Monash University, Vic 3800, Australia
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  • ELLYN J. COOK

    1. School of Geography and Environmental Science, PO Box 11A, Monash University, Vic 3800, Australia
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    • 1Present address: Department of Palynology and Climate Dynamics, University of Göttingen, Untere Karspüle 2, 37073 Göttingen, Germany.


Sander van der Kaars, tel. +49 551 39 5719, fax +49 551 39 8449, e-mail: Sander-van-der.Kaars@biologie.uni-goettingen.de

Abstract

A temporally high-resolution palynological study of the uppermost section of core MD98-2180 from Kau Bay, Halmahera, Indonesia, provides a vegetation and fire record covering the last 250 years. The record is compared with the Maluku Rainfall Index, Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) and southern hemisphere winter sea surface temperatures (SST) for the central Pacific Ocean based on instrumental data, as well as reconstructions of the SOI and the central Pacific SST and historically recorded El Niño events. The results show that significant El Niño events are generally associated with increased representation of Dipterocarpaceae pollen, probably reflecting the mass-flowering of this taxon during El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) droughts, and elevated charcoal levels, reflecting a greater incidence of fires during these extremely dry periods, while humid phases show increased fern numbers. Our findings demonstrate that pollen records ‘ecological’ in scale can provide useful additional proxy records of ENSO events.

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