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  1. Abstract

    The wind-driven meridional overturning circulation between the tropical and subtropical oceans is important for regulating decadal-scale temperature fluctuations in the Pacific Ocean and globally. An acceleration of the overturning circulation can act to reduce global surface temperature as ocean stores more heat. The equatorward low-latitude western boundary current represents a key component of the meridional circulation cell in the Pacific and a major source of water mass for the Equatorial Undercurrent, yet long-term observations of its transport are scarce. Here we demonstrate that the15N/14N ratio recorded byPoritesspp. corals in the western tropical South Pacific is sensitive to the exchanges of water masses driven by the western boundary transport. Using a 94-year coral record from the Solomon Sea, we report that the15N/14N ratio declined as the global surface temperature rose. The record suggests that the South Pacific western boundary current has strengthened in the past century, and it may have contributed to the reported strengthening of the Equatorial Undercurrent. In addition, the15N/14N record shows strong decadal variability, indicative of weaker equatorial Pacific upwelling and stronger western boundary transport when the eastern equatorial Pacific is in the warm stage of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.

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