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Late Pliocene to early Pleistocene changes in the North Atlantic Current and suborbital-scale sea-surface temperature variability

Late Pliocene to early Pleistocene changes in the North Atlantic Current and suborbital-scale sea-surface temperature variability
Late Pliocene to early Pleistocene changes in the North Atlantic Current and suborbital-scale sea-surface temperature variability
The strength and latitudinal position of the North Atlantic Current, NAC, determines the position of the Arctic front and heat transport to the high northern latitudes with potentially important consequences for Northern Hemisphere glaciation. A southward shift in the NAC and reduced poleward heat transport is hypothesized to have triggered the last major climate transition in Earth's history—late Pliocene intensification of Northern Hemisphere glaciation (iNHG). In turn, iNHG is hypothesized to have led to the amplification of climate variability on suborbital time scales. To date, however, only a handful of adequately resolved records are available to test these two hypotheses. Here we present a new late Pliocene to earliest Pleistocene record from Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Site U1313 (North Atlantic, 41°N; 2.9 to 2.4?Ma). We use Mg/Ca-derived paleotemperature records in planktic foraminiferal calcite to investigate changes in summer sea-surface temperatures (SST) on orbital and suborbital time scales. Our results call into question the suggestion that significant weakening and/or southward shift of the NAC served as a trigger for Northern Hemisphere cooling and intensified continental ice sheet growth across iNHG. In contrast to the late Pleistocene, during iNHG, we find that the position of the NAC and Arctic Front probably lay well to the north of Site U1313 and that the amplitude of suborbital SST variability did not change on glacial-interglacial time scales. Conservative estimates of Late Pliocene to earliest Pleistocene interglacial summer SSTs in our record are up to 3°C warmer than present, while glacial summer SSTs are only 2°C to 3°C cooler. In fact, our interglacial summer SSTs are remarkably similar to those of the mid-Pliocene. Our findings indicate that iNHG must have involved amplifying feedback mechanisms that are tightly coupled to ice sheet growth but that these processes were insufficiently developed by the late Pliocene/earliest Pleistocene to have triggered large amplitude changes in suborbital climate in the midlatitude North Atlantic.
Pliocene, planktic foraminifera, North Atlantic current
0883-8305
274-282
Friedrich, Oliver
680f066c-a4b1-4647-beb3-281addc1ee17
Wilson, Paul A.
f940a9f0-fa5a-4a64-9061-f0794bfbf7c6
Bolton, Clara T.
d3f550f0-1fe9-4d18-8a9c-a61034ab0280
Beer, Christopher J.
099ccf7a-6bad-479b-a298-5a7fe7d64229
Schiebel, Ralf
5c48accb-ee14-471a-801f-4267d8e4b2e1
Friedrich, Oliver
680f066c-a4b1-4647-beb3-281addc1ee17
Wilson, Paul A.
f940a9f0-fa5a-4a64-9061-f0794bfbf7c6
Bolton, Clara T.
d3f550f0-1fe9-4d18-8a9c-a61034ab0280
Beer, Christopher J.
099ccf7a-6bad-479b-a298-5a7fe7d64229
Schiebel, Ralf
5c48accb-ee14-471a-801f-4267d8e4b2e1

Friedrich, Oliver, Wilson, Paul A., Bolton, Clara T., Beer, Christopher J. and Schiebel, Ralf (2013) Late Pliocene to early Pleistocene changes in the North Atlantic Current and suborbital-scale sea-surface temperature variability. Paleoceanography, 28 (2), 274-282. (doi:10.1002/palo.20029).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The strength and latitudinal position of the North Atlantic Current, NAC, determines the position of the Arctic front and heat transport to the high northern latitudes with potentially important consequences for Northern Hemisphere glaciation. A southward shift in the NAC and reduced poleward heat transport is hypothesized to have triggered the last major climate transition in Earth's history—late Pliocene intensification of Northern Hemisphere glaciation (iNHG). In turn, iNHG is hypothesized to have led to the amplification of climate variability on suborbital time scales. To date, however, only a handful of adequately resolved records are available to test these two hypotheses. Here we present a new late Pliocene to earliest Pleistocene record from Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Site U1313 (North Atlantic, 41°N; 2.9 to 2.4?Ma). We use Mg/Ca-derived paleotemperature records in planktic foraminiferal calcite to investigate changes in summer sea-surface temperatures (SST) on orbital and suborbital time scales. Our results call into question the suggestion that significant weakening and/or southward shift of the NAC served as a trigger for Northern Hemisphere cooling and intensified continental ice sheet growth across iNHG. In contrast to the late Pleistocene, during iNHG, we find that the position of the NAC and Arctic Front probably lay well to the north of Site U1313 and that the amplitude of suborbital SST variability did not change on glacial-interglacial time scales. Conservative estimates of Late Pliocene to earliest Pleistocene interglacial summer SSTs in our record are up to 3°C warmer than present, while glacial summer SSTs are only 2°C to 3°C cooler. In fact, our interglacial summer SSTs are remarkably similar to those of the mid-Pliocene. Our findings indicate that iNHG must have involved amplifying feedback mechanisms that are tightly coupled to ice sheet growth but that these processes were insufficiently developed by the late Pliocene/earliest Pleistocene to have triggered large amplitude changes in suborbital climate in the midlatitude North Atlantic.

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More information

Published date: June 2013
Keywords: Pliocene, planktic foraminifera, North Atlantic current
Organisations: Paleooceanography & Palaeoclimate

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 355633
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/355633
ISSN: 0883-8305
PURE UUID: 214c7a8c-257a-44f8-b539-44935bc1f50d

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Date deposited: 09 Aug 2013 10:38
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 03:46

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Contributors

Author: Oliver Friedrich
Author: Paul A. Wilson
Author: Clara T. Bolton
Author: Christopher J. Beer
Author: Ralf Schiebel

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