Thermohaline circulation crisis and impacts during the mid-Pleistocene transition

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Science  26 Jun 2014:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1249770

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The mid-Pleistocene transition (MPT) marked a fundamental change in glacial-interglacial periodicity, when it increased from ~41,000 to 100,000 year cycles and developed higher amplitude climate variability without significant changes in the Milankovitch forcing. Here, we document, using Nd isotopes, a major disruption of the ocean thermohaline circulation (THC) system during the MPT between Marine Isotope Stages (MIS) 25-21 at ~950-860 thousand years ago, which effectively marks the first 100-thousand-year cycle, including an exceptional weakening through a critical interglacial (MIS 23) at ~900 thousand years ago. Its recovery into the post-MPT 100–thousand-year world is characterized by continued weak glacial THC. The MPT ocean circulation crisis facilitated the coeval drawdown of atmospheric CO2 and high latitude ice sheet growth, generating the conditions that stabilized 100-thousand-year cycles.

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