Sensitivity of northwest Australian tropical cyclone activity to ITCZ migration since 500 CE
Tropical cyclones (TCs) regularly form in association with the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), and thus, its positioning has implications for global TC activity. While the poleward extent of the ITCZ has varied markedly over past centuries, the sensitivity with which TCs responded remains poorly understood from the proxy record, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere. Here, we present a high-resolution, composite stalagmite record of ITCZ migrations over tropical Australia for the past 1500 years. When integrated with a TC reconstruction from the Australian subtropics, this time series, along with downscaled climate model simulations, provides an unprecedented examination of the dependence of subtropical TC activity on meridional shifts in the ITCZ. TCs tracked the ITCZ at multidecadal to centennial scales, with a more southward position enhancing TC-derived rainfall in the subtropics. TCs may play an increasingly important role in Western Australia’s moisture budgets as subtropical aridity increases due to anthropogenic warming. Stalagmites and climate models reveal ITCZ shifts drove concurrent changes in Australian tropical cyclone and monsoon rainfall.