ENSO drove 2500-year collapse of Eastern Pacific coral reefs

Lauren T. Toth, Richard B. Aronson, Steven V. Vollmer, Jennifer W. Hobbs, Dunia H. Urrego, Hai Cheng, Ian C. Enochs, David J. Combosch, Robert Van Woesik, Ian G. Macintyre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


Cores of coral reef frameworks along an upwelling gradient in Panamá show that reef ecosystems in the tropical eastern Pacific collapsed for 2500 years, representing as much as 40% of their history, beginning about 4000 years ago. The principal cause of this millennial-scale hiatus in reef growth was increased variability of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and its coupling with the Intertropical Convergence Zone. The hiatus was a Pacific-wide phenomenon with an underlying climatology similar to probable scenarios for the next century. Global climate change is probably driving eastern Pacific reefs toward another regional collapse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-84
Number of pages4
Issue number6090
StatePublished - Jul 6 2012


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