The importance of interacting climate modes on Australia’s contribution to global carbon cycle extremes

The global carbon cycle is highly sensitive to climate-driven fluctuations of precipitation, especially in the Southern Hemisphere. This was clearly manifested by a 20% increase of the global terrestrial C sink in 2011 during the strongest sustained La Niña since 1917. However, inconsistencies exist between El Niño/La Niña (ENSO) cycles and precipitation in the historical record; for example, significant ENSO–precipitation correlations were present in only 31% of the last 100 years, and often absent in wet years. To resolve these inconsistencies, we used an advanced temporal scaling method for identifying interactions amongst three key climate modes (El Niño, the Indian Ocean dipole, and the southern annular mode).

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