Palaeoclimate records and numerical model simulations indicate that changes in tropical and subtropical sea surface temperatures and in the annual average position of the intertropical convergence zone are linked to high-latitude climate changes on millennial to glacial interglacial timescales. It has recently been suggested that cooling in the high latitudes associated with abrupt climate-change events is evident primarily during the northern hemisphere winter, implying increased seasonality at these times. However, it is unclear whether such a seasonal bias also exists for the low latitudes. Here we analyse the Mg/Ca ratios of surface-dwelling foraminifera to reconstruct sea surface temperatures in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico for the past 300,000 years. We suggest that sea surface temperatures are controlled by the migration of the northern boundary of the Atlantic Warm Pool, and hence the position of the intertropical convergence zone during boreal summer, and are relatively insensitive to winter conditions. Our results suggest that summer Atlantic Warm Pool expansion is primarily affected by glacialinterglacial variability and low-latitude summer insolation. Because a clear signature of rapid climate-change events, such as the Younger Dryas cold event, is lacking in our record, we conclude that high-latitude events seem to influence only the winter Caribbean climate conditions, consistent with the hypothesis of extreme northern-hemisphere seasonality during abrupt cooling events.
Helmholtz Research Programs > MARCOPOLI (2004-2008) > POL6-Earth climate variability since the Pliocene