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North Atlantic ocean circulation and abrupt climate change during the last glaciation

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Science  30 Jun 2016:
aaf5529
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf5529

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Abstract

The last ice age was characterized by rapid and hemispherically asynchronous climate oscillations, whose origin remains unresolved. Variations in oceanic meridional heat transport may contribute to these repeated climate changes, which were most pronounced during marine isotope stage 3 (MIS3), the glacial interval twenty-five to sixty thousand years ago. We examined climate and ocean circulation proxies throughout this interval at high resolution in a deep North Atlantic sediment core, combining the kinematic tracer Pa/Th with the deep water-mass tracer, δ13CBF. These indicators suggest reduced Atlantic overturning circulation during every cool northern stadial, with the greatest reductions during episodic Hudson Strait iceberg discharges, while sharp northern warming followed reinvigorated overturning. These results provide direct evidence for the ocean's persistent, central role in abrupt glacial climate change.

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