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Freshwater input and abrupt deglacial climate change in the North Atlantic

Thornalley, DJR; McCave, IN; Elderfield, H; (2010) Freshwater input and abrupt deglacial climate change in the North Atlantic. Paleoceanography , 25 (1) , Article PA1201. 10.1029/2009PA001772. Green open access

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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°C–10°C 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 events has so far remained undetected. In this study, we use the geochemistry (paired Mg/Ca-δ18O) 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. (2001).

Type: Article
Title: Freshwater input and abrupt deglacial climate change in the North Atlantic
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1029/2009PA001772
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2009PA001772
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2010 by the American Geophysical Union.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1396379
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