North Atlantic Deepwater Temperature Change During Late Pliocene and Late Quaternary Climatic Cycles

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  24 Nov 1995:
Vol. 270, Issue 5240, pp. 1347-1351
DOI: 10.1126/science.270.5240.1347


Variations in the ratio of magnesium to calcium (Mg/Ca) in fossil ostracodes from Deep Sea Drilling Project Site 607 in the deep North Atlantic show that the change in bottom water temperature during late Pliocene 41,000-year obliquity cycles averaged 1.5°C between 3.2 and 2.8 million years ago (Ma) and increased to 2.3°C between 2.8 and 2.3 Ma, coincidentally with the intensification of Northern Hemisphere glaciation. During the last two 100,000-year glacial-to-interglacial climatic cycles of the Quaternary, bottom water temperatures changed by 4.5°C. These results show that glacial deepwater cooling has intensified since 3.2 Ma, most likely as the result of progressively diminished deepwater production in the North Atlantic and of the greater influence of Antarctic bottom water in the North Atlantic during glacial periods. The ostracode Mg/Ca data also allow the direct determination of the temperature component of the benthic foraminiferal oxygen isotope record from Site 607, as well as derivation of a hypothetical sea-level curve for the late Pliocene and late Quaternary. The effects of dissolution on the Mg/Ca ratios of ostracode shells appear to have been minimal.