Mediterranean heat injection to the North Atlantic delayed the intensification of Northern Hemisphere glaciations


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Christian.Stepanek [ at ] awi.de

Abstract

The intensification of Northern Hemisphere glaciations at the end of the Pliocene epoch marks one of the most substantial climatic shifts of the Cenozoic. Despite global cooling, sea surface temperatures in the high latitude North Atlantic Ocean rose between 2.9–2.7 million years ago. Here we present sedimentary geochemical proxy data from the Gulf of Cadiz to reconstruct the variability of Mediterranean Outflow Water, an important heat source to the North Atlantic. We find evidence for enhanced production of Mediterranean Outflow from the mid-Pliocene to the late Pliocene which we infer could have driven a sub-surface heat channel into the high-latitude North Atlantic. We then use Earth System Models to constrain the impact of enhanced Mediterranean Outflow production on the northward heat transport in the North Atlantic. In accord with the proxy data, the numerical model results support the formation of a sub-surface channel that pumped heat from the subtropics into the high latitude North Atlantic. We further suggest that this mechanism could have delayed ice sheet growth at the end of the Pliocene.



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Article
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Helmholtz Cross Cutting Activity (2021-2027)
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Published
Eprint ID
54450
DOI 10.1038/s43247-021-00232-5

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Kaboth-Bahr, S. , Bahr, A. , Stepanek, C. , Catunda, M. C. A. , Karas, C. , Ziegler, M. , García-Gallardo, Á. and Grunert, P. (2021): Mediterranean heat injection to the North Atlantic delayed the intensification of Northern Hemisphere glaciations , Communications Earth & Environment, 2 (1) . doi: 10.1038/s43247-021-00232-5


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