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North Atlantic climate evolution through the Plio-Pleistocene climate transitions

Lawrence, K. T., Sosdian, Sindia, White, H. E. and Rosenthal, Y. 2010. North Atlantic climate evolution through the Plio-Pleistocene climate transitions. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 300 (3-4) , pp. 329-342. 10.1016/j.epsl.2010.10.013

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Abstract

During the Plio-Pleistocene, the Earth witnessed the growth of large northern hemisphere ice sheets and profound changes in both North Atlantic and global climate. Here, we present a ~ 3.2 Myr long, orbitally-resolved alkenone sea surface temperature (SST) record from Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP) Site 607 (41°N, 33°W, water depth 3427 m) in the North Atlantic Ocean. We employ a multi-proxy approach comparing these new observations with existing bottom water temperature (BWT) and stable isotope time series from the same site and SST time series from other sites, shedding new light on Plio-Pleistocene climate change. North Atlantic temperature records show a long-term cooling with two major steps occurring during the late Pliocene (3.1 to 2.4 Ma) and the mid-Pleistocene (1.5 to 0.8 Ma), closely timed with intervals of major change in northern hemisphere ice sheets. Existing evidence suggests that the late Pliocene cooling may have been caused by a thresholded response to secular changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). While an explanation for the mid-Pleistocene cooling may involve glacial–interglacial changes in atmospheric CO2, it seems to also require a change in the behavior of the ice sheets themselves. North Atlantic climate responses were closely phased with benthic oxygen isotope (δ18O) changes during the “41 kyr world,” indicating a strong common northern hemisphere high latitude imprint on North Atlantic climate signals. After the mid-Pleistocene transition (MPT), North Atlantic SST records and the Site 607 benthic carbon isotope (δ13C) record are more closely phased with δ18O, whereas BWT significantly leads δ18O in the 100 kyr band, suggesting a shift from a northern to a southern hemisphere influence on North Atlantic BWT. We propose that the expansion of the West Antarctic ice sheet (WAIS) across the MPT increased the production and export of Antarctic Bottom Water from the Southern Ocean and subsequently controlled its incursion into the North Atlantic, especially during glacial intervals. It follows that the early 100 kyr response of BWT implies an early response of the WAIS relative to the northern hemisphere deglaciation. Thus, in the “100 kyr world,” both northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere processes affect climate conditions in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Ocean Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QE Geology
Uncontrolled Keywords: North Atlantic; Pliocene; Pleistocene; sea surface temperature; bottom water temperature; alkenones
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0012-821X
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 02:08
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/9553

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