The import of relatively salty water masses from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic is considered to be important for the operational mode of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). However, the occurrence and the origin of changes in this import behavior on millennial and glacial/interglacial timescales remains equivocal. Here we reconstruct multiproxy paleosalinity changes in the Agulhas Current since the Last Glacial Maximum and compare the salinity pattern with records from the Indian-Atlantic Ocean Gateway (I-AOG) and model simulations using a fully coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation model. The reconstructed paleosalinity pattern in the Agulhas Current displays coherent variability with changes recorded in the wider I-AOG region over the last glacial termination. We infer that salinities simultaneously increased in both areas consistent with a quasi interhemispheric salt-seesaw response, analogous to the thermal bipolar seesaw in response to a reduced cross-hemispheric heat and salt exchange during times of weakened AMOC. Interestingly, these hydrographic shifts can also be recognized in the wider Southern Hemisphere, which indicates that salinity anomalies are not purely restricted to the Agulhas Current System itself. More saline upstream Agulhas waters were propagated to the I-AOG during Heinrich Stadial 1 (HS1). However, the salt flux into the South Atlantic might have been reduced due to a decreased volume transport through the I-AOG during the AMOC slowdown associated with HS1. Hence, our combined data-model interpretation suggests that intervals with higher salinity in the Agulhas Current source region are not necessarily an indicator for an increased salt import via the I-AOG into the South Atlantic.
Helmholtz Research Programs > PACES II (2014-2018) > TOPIC 3: The earth system from a polar perspective > WP 3.2: Earth system on tectonic time scales: From greenhouse to icehouse world