The 20th century evolution of basin-wide gradients in surface ocean properties provides one essential test for recent models of the interaction between the Asian monsoon and the tropical ocean, because various feedback mechanisms should result in characteristic regional patterns of variability. Although the instrumental record of climate variability in the tropics is essentially limited to the last few decades, the stable isotopic composition of living corals provides an effective means for extending the instrumental observations. Here we present two coral isotopic records from the Indonesian Maritime Continent, and we use these records with other previously published records to describe: (i) the relationship between western Pacific and central Pacific climate variability over the past century, with special emphasis on the biennial band; and (ii) the strength of the west-east 'Indian Ocean Dipole'. We find that the amplitude of the biennial cycle in the Pacific did not vary inversely with the strength of ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation), as might be expected from some models of monsoonal feedback on the central Pacific. Instead, the biennial variability was modulated on decadal timescales throughout much of the Pacific. We also show that the zonal oxygen isotopic gradient in the Indian Ocean coral records was significantly correlated with central Pacific sea surface temperature on a variety of timescales. Thus, it is likely that this 'coral dipole' was a product of strong ENSO-like teleconnections over the Indian Ocean, as opposed to being the result of unique Indian Ocean or monsoonal dynamics. (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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