Muted change in Atlantic overturning circulation over some glacial-aged Heinrich events

Lynch-Stieglitz, Jean and Schmidt, Matthew W. and Gene Henry, L. and Curry, William B. and Skinner, Luke C. and Mulitza, Stefan and Zhang, Rong and Chang, Ping (2014) Muted change in Atlantic overturning circulation over some glacial-aged Heinrich events. Nature Geoscience, 7 (2). pp. 144-150. ISSN 1752-0894 EISSN:1752-0908 DOI

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Heinrich events—surges of icebergs into the North Atlantic Ocean—punctuated the last glacial period. The events are associated with millennial-scale cooling in the Northern Hemisphere. Fresh water from the melting icebergs is thought to have interrupted the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, thus minimizing heat transport into the northern North Atlantic. The northward flow of warm water passes through the Florida Straits and is reflected in the distribution of seawater properties in this region. Here we investigate the northward flow through this region over the past 40,000 years using oxygen isotope measurements of benthic foraminifera from two cores on either side of the Florida Straits. These measurements allow us to estimate water density, which is related to flow through the thermal wind balance. We infer a substantial reduction of flow during Heinrich Event 1 and the Younger Dryas cooling, but little change during Heinrich Events 2 and 3, which occurred during an especially cold phase of the last glacial period. We speculate that because glacial circulation was already weakened before the onset of Heinrich Events 2 and 3, freshwater forcing had little additional effect. However, low-latitude climate perturbations were observed during all events. We therefore suggest that these perturbations may not have been directly caused by changes in heat transport associated with Atlantic overturning circulation as commonly assumed.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 2013AREP, IA67,
Subjects: 01 - Climate Change and Earth-Ocean Atmosphere Systems
Divisions: 01 - Climate Change and Earth-Ocean Atmosphere Systems
Journal or Publication Title: Nature Geoscience
Volume: 7
Page Range: pp. 144-150
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2014 23:51
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2014 17:19

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