skip to main content

This content will become publicly available on November 17, 2024

Title: Surface climate signals transmitted rapidly to deep North Atlantic throughout last millennium

Instrumental observations of subsurface ocean warming imply that ocean heat uptake has slowed 20th-century surface warming. We present high-resolution records from subpolar North Atlantic sediments that are consistent with instrumental observations of surface and deep warming/freshening and in addition reconstruct the surface-deep relation of the last 1200 years. Sites from ~1300 meters and deeper suggest an ~0.5 degrees celsius cooling across the Medieval Climate Anomaly to Little Ice Age transition that began ~1350 ± 50 common era (CE), whereas surface records suggest asynchronous cooling onset spanning ~600 years. These data suggest that ocean circulation integrates surface variability that is transmitted rapidly to depth by the Atlantic Meridional Ocean Circulation, implying that the ocean moderated Earth’s surface temperature throughout the last millennium as it does today.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Page Range / eLocation ID:
834 to 839
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract The Gulf of Maine and surrounding western North Atlantic shelf are some of the fastest warming regions of the worlds oceans. The lack of long-term observational records from this area inhibits the ability to assess the timing and initial causes of this warming and consequently accurately predict future changes to this ecologically and economically important region. Here we present oxygen, nitrogen, and radiocarbon isotope data measured in Arctica islandica shells collected in the western North Atlantic to better understand the past temperature and ocean circulation variability of the region over the last 300 years. We combine these results with output from the Community Earth System Model Last Millennium Ensemble simulations to assess the temporal and spatial context of these isotope records. We find that the isotope records capture the end and reversal of a millennium-scale cooling trend in the Gulf of Maine. Last Millennium Ensemble single-forcing simulations indicate that this cooling trend appears to be largely driven by volcanic forcing. The nitrogen and radiocarbon records indicate that ocean circulation is in part driving the reconstructed hydrographic changes, pointing to a potential role of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation in regulating Gulf of Maine temperatures as suggested by the Last Millennium Ensemble simulations. Both isotope and model results suggest that the Gulf of Maine began to warm in the late 19th century, ultimately driven by increased greenhouse gas forcing. Plain-language Summary The Gulf of Maine, located off of the Eastern Coast of the United States, has experienced significant temperature increases recently. Because the instrumental record only began in 1905, we do not have a good idea of when this warming began and what may have initially caused the warming. Here, we analyze the chemistry of clam shells, which have grown in the Gulf of Maine for hundreds of years, to infer past changes in ocean temperatures and water properties. We combine these results with output from a climate model to reveal that the temperatures reconstructed from the clams shells agree well with the model during the period of overlap. Both the chemical records and the model suggest the Gulf of Maine started warming in the late 1800s as a result of increased atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. Before this warming began, the Gulf of Maine region appears to have been cooling. The model suggests that this cooling trend is likely due to the influence of volcanic eruptions. The chemical records from the clam shells also suggest that part of this cooling is likely related to changing ocean circulation patterns. 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    The Gulf of Maine, located in the western North Atlantic, has undergone recent, rapid ocean warming but the lack of long-term, instrumental records hampers the ability to put these significant hydrographic changes into context. Here we present multiple 300-year long geochemical records (oxygen, nitrogen, and previously published radiocarbon isotopes) measured in absolutely-datedArctica islandicashells from the western Gulf of Maine. These records, in combination with climate model simulations, suggest that the Gulf of Maine underwent a long-term cooling over most of the last 1000 years, driven primarily by volcanic forcing and North Atlantic ocean dynamics. This cooling trend was reversed by warming beginning in the late 1800s, likely due to increased atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations and changes in western North Atlantic circulation. The climate model simulations suggest that the warming over the last century was more rapid than almost any other 100-year period in the last 1000 years in the region.

    more » « less
  3. Warming in recent decades in the North Atlantic Ocean has been heterogeneous, with locations along the northwestern Atlantic experiencing some of the largest and fastest warming in the last 100 years. This region is important for fisheries but has limited spatial and temporal hydrographic instrumental series extending beyond the past decades, especially along the coastal United States portion of the northwestern Atlantic, thus impacting our understanding of past climatic variability. To provide a longer temporal context for these changes, we constructed a continuous master shell growth chronology spanning the last two centuries and provided geochemical records from the Mid-Atlantic region using the long-lived marine bivalve Arctica islandica. Shells were collected on the outer shelf region off Ocean City, Maryland, in ~ 60 m water depth. This region is sensitive to large-scale North Atlantic Ocean dynamics, including the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) and Gulf Stream eddies. Based on growth histories and shell oxygen isotopes, we provide evidence of hydrographic variability beyond the relatively short instrumental period and evaluate the likely causes for these changes. These data allow us to better characterize recent and past oceanographic changes in the Mid-Atlantic region, synthesize the new results with previously developed paleo-records in the northwestern Atlantic, and provide guidance for the management of fisheries in this region. 
    more » « less
  4. Beaufort, Luc (Ed.)
    Abstract. The evolution of the Cenozoic cryosphere from unipolar to bipolar over the past 30 million years (Myr) is broadly known. Highly resolved records of carbonate (CaCO3) content provide insight into the evolution of regional and global climate, cryosphere, and carbon cycle dynamics. Here, we generate the first Southeast Atlantic CaCO3 content record spanning the last 30 Myr, derived from X-ray fluorescence (XRF) ln(Ca/Fe) data collected at Ocean Drilling Program Site 1264 (Walvis Ridge, SE Atlantic Ocean). We present a comprehensive and continuous depth and age model for the entirety of Site 1264 (~316 m; 30 Myr). This constitutes a key reference framework for future palaeoclimatic and palaeoceanographic studies at this location. We identify three phases with distinctly different orbital controls on Southeast Atlantic CaCO3 deposition, corresponding to major developments in climate, the cryosphere and the carbon cycle: (1) strong ~110 kyr eccentricity pacing prevails during Oligocene–Miocene global warmth (~30–13 Ma), (2) increased eccentricity-modulated precession pacing appears after the middle Miocene ClimateTransition (mMCT) (~14–8 Ma), and (3) pervasive obliquity pacing appears in the late Miocene (~7.7–3.3 Ma) following greater importance of high-latitude processes, such as increased glacial activity and high-latitude cooling. The lowest CaCO3 content (92 %–94 %) occurs between 18.5 and 14.5 Ma, potentially reflecting dissolution caused by widespread early Miocene warmth and preceding Antarctic deglaciation across the Miocene Climatic Optimum (~17–14.5 Ma) by 1.5 Myr. The emergence of precession pacing of CaCO3 deposition at Site 1264 after ~14 Ma could signal a reorganisation of surface and/or deep-water circulation in this region following Antarctic reglaciation at the mMCT. The increased sensitivity to precession at Site 1264 between 14 and 13 Ma is associated with an increase in mass accumulation rates (MARs) and reflects increased regional CaCO3 productivity and/or recurrent influxes of cooler, less corrosive deep waters. The highest carbonate content (%CaCO3) and MARs indicate that the late Miocene–early PlioceneBiogenic Bloom (LMBB) occurs between ~7.8 and 3.3Ma at Site 1264; broadly contemporaneous with the LMBB in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. At Site 1264, the onset of the LMBB roughly coincides with appearance of strong obliquity pacing of %CaCO3, reflecting increased high-latitude forcing. The global expression of the LMBB may reflect increased nutrient input into the global ocean resulting from enhanced aeolian dust and/or glacial/chemical weathering fluxes, due to enhanced glacial activity and increased meridional temperature gradients. Regional variability in the timing and amplitude of the LMBB may be driven by regional differences in cooling, continental aridification and/or changes in ocean circulation in the late Miocene. 
    more » « less
  5. Neogene ocean temperatures are characterized by sustained warmth during the mid-Miocene Climatic Optimum followed by gradual cooling through the late Miocene culminating in Northern Hemisphere glaciation in the early Pleistocene. While the magnitude of sea surface temperature (SST) cooling is enhanced at higher latitudes, existing records suggest that the timing is nearly synchronous across the world's oceans. However, the Nordic Seas, north of the Greenland-Scotland Ridge (GSR), experienced rapid cooling steps (14.5-14 Ma, 12.5-12 Ma, 8-6 Ma) that are out of sync with the global SST cooling trend. Here we present a new alkenone paleo-SST record from Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) site 985 in the western Norwegian Sea (66°56' N, 6°27' W) and investigate the relationships between rapid SST change, depth of the GSR, ocean circulation, and deep-water formation using proxy and model data. We find significant (p < 0.01) inverse relationships between the depth of the GSR and SSTs at ODP sites north of the ridge (985 and 907), positive relationships between GSR depth and the SST gradient across the ridge, and inverse relationships between deep water production and SST at ODP sites 985 and 907. In sum, these observations suggest that during global Miocene cooling, intervals of GSR deepening allowed for increased sea water exchange and an invigoration of deep-water production in the North Atlantic. We posit that enhanced surficial cyclonic flow in the Nordic Seas and a strengthened East Greenland Current caused rapid cooling in the western Nordic Seas. This cooling is consistent with Pliocene coupled climate model runs with altered tectonic boundary conditions simulating a deeper GSR, implying that this SST response to changes to GSR depth may be an important mechanism in high latitude Neogene climate. Furthermore, a strong linear relationship (r2 = 0.84) between ODP 985 SST and global deep ocean δ13C suggests that ocean circulation responses to tectonically forced variability in the GSR may have had an important impact on the Neogene carbon cycle. 
    more » « less