Freshwater input and abrupt deglacial climate change in the North Atlantic

Thornalley, D. J. R. and McCave, I. N. and Elderfield, H. (2010) Freshwater input and abrupt deglacial climate change in the North Atlantic. Paleoceanography, 25. PA1201. DOI 10.1029/2009PA001772

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Abstract

Greenland ice-core records indicate that the last deglaciation (~7 - 21 ka) was punctuated by numerous abrupt climate reversals, involving temperature changes of up to 5-10oC within decades. However the cause behind many of these events is uncertain. A likely candidate may have been the input of deglacial meltwater, from the Laurentide ice sheet (LIS), to the high latitude North Atlantic, which disrupted ocean circulation and triggered cooling. Yet the direct evidence of meltwater input for many of these event has so far remained undetected. In this study, we use the geochemistry (paired Mg/Ca-δ18 O) of planktonic foraminifera from a sediment core south of Iceland to reconstruct the input of freshwater to the northern North Atlantic during abrupt deglacial climate change. Our record can be placed on the same timescale as ice-cores and therefore provides a direct comparison between the timing of freshwater input and climate variability. Meltwater events coincide with the onset of numerous cold intervals, including the Older Dryas (14.0 ka), two events during the Allerød (at ~13.1 and 13.6 ka), the Younger Dryas (12.9 ka), and the 8.2 ka event, supporting a causal link between these abrupt climate changes and meltwater input. During the Bølling-Allerød warm interval, we find that periods of warming are associated with an increased meltwater flux to the northern North Atlantic, which in turn induces abrupt cooling, a cessation in meltwater input, and eventual climate recovery. This implies that feedback between climate and meltwater input produced a highly variable climate. A comparison to published data sets suggests that this feedback likely included fluctuations in the southern margin of the LIS causing rerouting of LIS meltwater between southern and eastern drainage outlets, as proposed by Clark et al. [Science, 2001, v293, 283-287].

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 09AREP; IA58;
Subjects: 01 - Climate Change and Earth-Ocean Atmosphere Systems
Divisions: 01 - Climate Change and Earth-Ocean Atmosphere Systems
Journal or Publication Title: Paleoceanography
Volume: 25
Page Range: PA1201
Identification Number: 10.1029/2009PA001772
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2009 10:38
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2013 09:56
URI: http://eprints.esc.cam.ac.uk/id/eprint/1204

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