Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Scientific Reports



First Page



Through alteration of wave-generating atmospheric systems, global climate changes play a fundamental role in regional wave climate. However, long-term wave-climate cycles and their associated forcing mechanisms remain poorly constrained, in part due to a relative dearth of highly resolved archives. Here we use the morphology of former shorelines preserved in beach-foredune ridges (BFR) within a protected embayment to reconstruct changes in predominant wave directions in the Subtropical South Atlantic during the last ~ 3000 years. These analyses reveal multi-centennial cycles of oscillation in predominant wave direction in accordance with stronger (weaker) South Atlantic mid- to high-latitudes mean sea-level pressure gradient and zonal westerly winds, favouring wave generation zones in higher (lower) latitudes and consequent southerly (easterly) wave components. We identify the Southern Annular Mode as the primary climate driver responsible for these changes. Long-term variations in interhemispheric surface temperature anomalies coexist with oscillations in wave direction, which indicates the influence of temperature-driven atmospheric teleconnections on wave-generation cycles. These results provide a novel geomorphic proxy for paleoenvironmental reconstructions and present new insights into the role of global multi-decadal to multi-centennial climate variability in controlling coastal-ocean wave climate.


doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-75265-5


Ocean science, palaeocenography, palaeoclimate

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

SR_2020_75265_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (19114 kB)
Supplementary material

Included in

Oceanography Commons