Geo-Marine Letters

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 155–162 | Cite as

Coral extension rates in the NW Indian Ocean II: reconstruction of 20th century Indian monsoon strength and rainfall over India

  • David Storz
  • Eberhard Gischler


To date, coral proxy studies have proved largely unsuccessful in reconstructing temporal variability of the Indian monsoon system in the NW Indian Ocean. In a recent publication in this journal, Storz and Gischler demonstrated that extension rates in corals can be used to fill this gap. Those authors found a link between decadal and interannual variations of the SW monsoon current velocities and Porites lutea extension rates in the lagoon of Rasdhoo Atoll (4°N/73°W) in the central Maldives for the period 1917–2007. This sister paper shows that this extension-rate record can be used to reconstruct decadal variations of summer monsoon rainfall over peninsular India and adjacent areas. The amount of monsoon rainfall and current velocities during summer are both affected by the strength of the Indian monsoon system. Assessments of coral extension rates and the mean May–September All India Monsoon Rainfall index, a measure of monsoon strength over the Indian subcontinent, revealed a significant spectral coherence within periods of 18–19 and 6–7 years. Almost 92% of variance is shared between both time series in the former band, and 85% in the latter. A correlation between the 5-year running mean extension rate and rainfall records from the Western Ghats (grid of 73–76°E/13–15°N) is significant especially for 1958–2006 (r = −0.82, p < 0.05). These findings imply that coral growth characteristics can serve as a new marine archive to reconstruct past variations of the Indian monsoon system on interannual to decadal timescales.


Monsoon Rainfall Pacific Decadal Oscillation Coral Growth Simple Ocean Data Assimilation India Monsoon Rainfall 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft for supporting this project with grant Gi 222/14. We are grateful to Dr. Harold Hudson (Miami), who drilled the cores and helped with all sorts of solutions to technical problems. Captain Haneef of Rasdhoo Island and his dhoni crew did a great job of boatmanship in Maldivian waters. We thank Dr. Reinhard Kikinger (Kuramathi Island Biostation) and Mr. Bill Allison (Male) for their invaluable help with logistics. Ms. Fareesha Adam and Dr. Shiham Adam of the Maldives government gave administrative support and helped with permit requirements. Ms. Eva Behrens and Mr. Renald Gless (Frankfurt) assisted during sample preparations. Finally, we thank Dr. Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, who is responsible for the development and upkeeping of the KNMI climate explorer in De Bilt, The Netherlands. Constructive reviews by C. Betzler, L. Montaggioni, and an anonymous referee proved useful in improving the original manuscript.


  1. Agnihotri R, Dutta K, Bhusan R, Somayajulu BLK (2002) Evidence for solar forcing on the Indian monsoon during the last millennium. Earth Planet Sci Lett 198:521–527CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson DM, Overpeck JT, Gupta AK (2002) Increase in the Asian southwest monsoon during the past four centuries. Science 297:596–599CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bessat F, Buigues D (2001) Two centuries of variation in coral growth in a massive Porites colony from Moorea (French Polynesia): a response of ocean-atmosphere variability from south central Pacific. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol 175:381–392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blackman RB, Tukey JW (1958) The measurement of power spectra from the point of view of communication engineering. Dover, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  5. Borgaonkar HP, Sikder AB, Ram S, Pant GB (2010) El Niño and related monsoon drought signals in 523-year-long ring width records of teak (Tectona grandis L.F.) trees from southern India. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol 285:74–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Carton JA, Giese BS, Grodsky SA (2005) Sea level rise and the warming of the oceans in the Simple Ocean Data Assimilation (SODA) ocean reanalysis. J Geophys Res 110:C09006. doi: 10.1029/2004JC002817 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Charles CD, Hunter DE, Fairbanks RG (1997) Interaction between the ENSO and the Asian monsoon in a coral record of tropical climate. Science 277:925–928CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cole JE, Dunbar RB, McClanahan TR, Muthiga NA (2000) Tropical Pacific forcing of decadal SST variability in the western Indian Ocean over the past two centuries. Science 287:617–619CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. D’Arrigo R, Wilson B (2006) On the Asian expression of the PDO. Int J Climatol 26:1607–1617CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. De’ath G, Lough JM, Fabricius KE (2009) Declining coral calcification on the Great Barrier Reef. Science 323:116–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Deser C, Phillips A, Hurrell J (2004) Pacific interdecadal climate variability: linkages between the tropics and North Pacific during boreal winter since 1900. J Clim 17:3109–3124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fleitmann D, Burns SJ, Neff U, Mudelsee M, Mangini A, Matter A (2004) Palaeoclimatic interpretation of high-resolution oxygen isotope profiles derived from annually laminated speleothems from Southern Oman. Quat Sci Rev 23:935–945CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fürstenau J, Lindhorst S, Betzler C, Hübscher C (2010) Submerged reef terraces of the Maldives (Indian Ocean). Geo-Mar Lett 30(5):511–515. doi: 10.1007/s00367-009-0174-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gischler E (2006) Sedimentation on Rasdhoo and Ari Atolls, Maldives, Indian Ocean. Facies 52:341–360CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Janicot S (2009) A comparison of Indian and African monsoon variability at different time scales. C R Geosci 341:575–590CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Krishnan R, Sugi M (2003) Pacific decadal oscillation and variability of the Indian summer monsoon rainfall. Clim Dyn 21:233–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lough JM, Barnes DJ (2000) Environmental controls on growth of the massive coral Porites. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 245:225–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Mantua NJ, Hare SR (2002) The Pacific decadal oscillation. J Oceanogr 58:35–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Mantua NJ, Hare SR, Zhang Y, Wallace JM, Francis RC (1997) A Pacific interdecadal climate oscillation with impacts on salmon production. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 78:1069–1079CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mitchel TD, Jones PD (2005) An improved method of constructing a database of monthly climate observations and associated high-resolution grids. Int J Climatol 25:693–712CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Murtugudde R, McCreary JP, Busalacchi AJ (2000) Oceanic processes associated with anomalous events in the Indian Ocean with relevance to 1997–1998. J Geophys Res 105:3295–3306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Paillard D, Labeyrie L, Yiou P (1996) Macintosh program performs time series analysis. Eos Trans AGU 77:379CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Pfeiffer M, Dullo W-C (2006) Monsoon-induced cooling of the western equatorial Indian Ocean as recorded in coral oxygen isotope records from the Seychelles covering the period of 1840–1994 AD. Quat Sci Rev 25:993–1009CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Purdy EG, Bertram FT (1993) Carbonate concepts from the Maldives, Indian Ocean. AAPG Stud Geol 34:1–56Google Scholar
  25. Saenger C, Cohen AL, Oppo DW, Halley RB, Carilli JE (2009) Surface-temperature trends and variability in the low latitude North Atlantic since 1552. Nat Geosci 2:492–495CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Schöne BR (2008) The curse of physiology—challenges and opportunities in the interpretation of geochemical data from mollusk shells. Geo-Mar-Lett 28(5/6):269–285. doi: 10.1007/s00367-008-0114-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Scoffin TP, Tudhope AW, Brown BE, Chansang H, Cheeney RF (1992) Patterns and possible environmental controls of skeletogenesis of Porites lutea, South Thailand. Coral Reefs 11:1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Shankar D, Vinayachandran PN, Unnikrishnan AS (2002) The monsoon currents in the north Indian Ocean. Prog Oceanogr 52:63–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Smith TM, Reynolds RW (2004) Improved extended reconstruction of SST (1854–1997). J Clim 17:2466–2477CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Sontakke NA, Singh N (1996) Longest instrumental regional and all-India summer monsoon rainfall series using optimum observations: reconstruction and update. Holocene 6:315–331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Storz D, Gischler E (2011) Coral extension rates in the NW Indian Ocean I: reconstruction of 20th century SST variability and monsoon current strength. Geo-Mar Lett 31 (in press). doi: 10.1007/s00367-010-0221-z
  32. Tiwari M, Ramesh R, Somayajulu BLK, Jull AJT, Burr GS (2006) Paleomonsoon precipitation deduced from a sediment core from the equatorial Indian Ocean. Geo-Mar Lett 26(1):23–30. doi: 10.1007/s00367-005-0012-0 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. van Oldenborgh GJ, Burgers G (2001) The effects of El Niño on precipitation and temperature, an update. KNMI preprint 2001-07, KNMI, De BiltGoogle Scholar
  34. von Rad U, Schaaf M, Michels KH, Schulz H, Berger WH, Sirocko F (1999) A 5000-yr record of climate change in varved sediments from the oxygen minimum zone off Pakistan, Northeastern Arabian Sea. Quat Res 51:39–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Webster PJ, Magaña VO, Palmer TN, Shukla J, Tomas RA, Yanai M, Yasunari T (1998) Monsoons: processes, predictability, and the prospects for prediction. J Geophys Res 103:14451–14510CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Yadava MG, Ramesh R (2007) Significant longer-term periodicities in the proxy record of the Indian monsoon rainfall. New Astron 12:544–555CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Yadava MG, Ramesh R, Pant GB (2004) Past monsoon rainfall variations in peninsular India recorded in a 331-year-old speleothem. Holocene 14:517–524CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Zinke J, Pfeiffer M, Timm O, Dullo W-C, Brummer GJA (2009) Western Indian Ocean marine and terrestrial records of climate variability: a review and new concepts on land-ocean interactions since AD 1660. Int J Earth Sci 98:115–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für GeowissenschaftenGoethe-UniversitätFrankfurt am MainGermany

Personalised recommendations