Evaluating southern Red Sea corals as a proxy record for the Asian monsoon

R. Klein*, A. W. Tudhope, C. P. Chilcott, J. Pätzold, Z. Abdulkarim, M. Fine, A. E. Fallick, Y. Loya

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Coral palaeoclimatic studies are under way at many sites throughout the wet tropics. However, arid environments have received less attention. Here we report a high-resolution, 63 yr record of coral δ18O and δ13C extracted from a Porites colony from the Dahlak Archipelago, off the Eritrean coast, in the southern Red Sea. The annual cycles of the coral δ18O and δ13C are inversely related while their inter-annual variations show a strong positive correlation, with similar inter-decadal trends. Inter-annual variations in coral δ18O show a relatively weak correlation with the southern Red Sea SST, but are strongly correlated with the Indian Ocean SST, especially on the decadal time-scale. The range of the inter-annual variations in the coral δ18O is high compared to changes in local SST, due to the amplifying effect of simultaneous changes in water isotopic composition. Due to this amplification of the climate signal the coral provides a better indication of regional oceanographic behaviour than the local SST record. The norrtheast monsoon signal in the coral δ18O dominates the mean annual signal and shows the best correlation with the instrumental data sets. It appears that variations in the coral δ18O are controlled mainly by variations in the intensity of surface water influx from the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea during the winter northeast monsoon. Of particular significance is that the decadal time-scale variations in the coral skeletal δ18O are closely correlated with both the Indian Ocean SST and with variations in the Pacific-based Southern Oscillation index. That is, isotopically light coral skeleton, indicating strong NE monsoon Red Sea inflow, correlates with periods of high Indian Ocean SST and with predominantly negative (El Niño) phases of the Southern Oscillation. The simultaneous nature of inter-decadal changes in Asian monsoon and ENSO behaviour suggest pan-Indo-Pacific tropical climate reorganisation and evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-394
Number of pages14
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 1997


FundersFunder number
British Council
Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation
German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development


    • El Nino
    • O-18/O-16
    • Paleoclimatology
    • Porites
    • Red Sea


    Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluating southern Red Sea corals as a proxy record for the Asian monsoon'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this