To better understand North Pacific climate variability at interannual to interdecadal scales, we have developed a new tool for paleoenvironmental reconstruction. We show that growth rings in long-lived geoduck clams (Panopea abrupta) can provide high quality, annually resolved records of sea-surface temperature (SST). We used shell samples from the Strait of Juan de Fuca, in Washington State, to extend the coastal SST record back to 1877. The spatial correlation pattern between the growth index and gridded SSTs bears a strong resemblance to the leading pattern of interdecadal global SST variations and underscores the remarkable long-distance coherence evident among coastal SST records in the northeast Pacific. Our results also indicate that the 1990s was the warmest decade in this region since at least the 1850s.
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