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Northern and southern hemispheric influences—particularly changes in Southern Hemisphere westerly winds (SSW) and Southern Ocean ventilation—triggered the stepwise atmospheric CO2 increase that accompanied the last deglaciation. One approach for gaining potential insights into past changes in SWW/CO2 upwelling is to reconstruct the positions of the northern oceanic fronts associated with the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Using two deep-sea cores located ~600 km apart off the southern coast of Australia, we detail oceanic changes from ~23 to 6 ka using foraminifer faunal and biomarker alkenone records. Our results indicate a tight coupling between hydrographic and related frontal displacements offshore South Australia (and by analogy, possibly the entire Southern Ocean) and Northern Hemisphere (NH) climate that may help confirm previous hypotheses that the westerlies play a critical role in modulating CO2 uptake and release from the Southern Ocean on millennial and potentially even centennial timescales. The intensity and extent of the northward displacements of the Subtropical Front following well-known NH cold events seem to decrease with progressing NH ice sheet deglaciation and parallel a weakening NH temperature response and amplitude of Intertropical Convergence Zone shifts. In addition, an exceptional poleward shift of Southern Hemisphere fronts occurs during the NH Heinrich Stadial 1. This event was likely facilitated by the NH ice maximum and acted as a coup-de-grâce for glacial ocean stratification and its high CO2 capacitance. Thus, through its influence on the global atmosphere and on ocean mixing, “excessive” NH glaciation could have triggered its own demise by facilitating the destratification of the glacial ocean CO2 state.
About 115,000 yr ago the last interglacial reached its terminus and nucleation of new ice-sheet growth was initiated. Evidence from the northernmost Nordic Seas indicate that the inception of the last glacial was related to an intensification of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) in its northern limb. The enhanced AMOC, combined with minimum Northern hemisphere insolation, introduced a strong sea–land thermal gradient that, together with a strong wintertime latitudinal insolation gradient, increased the storminess and moisture transport to the high Northern European latitudes at a time when the Northern hemisphere summer insolation approached its minimum.
Downcore studies of planktonic and benthonic foraminifera and δ18O and δ13C in the planktonic foraminifer Neogloboquadrina pachyderma (sin.) in two piston cores from the southern part of the Norwegian Sea suggest large changes in the oceanic circulation pattern at the end of oxygenisotope stage 2 and in the early part of stage 1. Prior to oxygen-isotope Termination IA (16,000–13,000 yr B.P.), an isolated watermass with lower oxygen content and temperature warmer than today existed below a low salinity ice-covered surface layer in the Norwegian Sea. Close to Termination IA, well-oxygenated deep water, probably with positive temperatures, was introduced. This deep water, which must have had physical and/or chemical parameters different from those of present deep water in the Norwegian Sea, could have been introduced from the North Atlantic or been formed within the basin by another mechanism than that which forms the present deep water of the Norwegian Sea. A seasonal ice cover in the southern part of the Norwegian Sea is proposed for the period between Termination IA and the beginning of IB (close to 10,000 yr B.P.). The present situation, with strong influx of warm Atlantic surface-water and deep-water formation by surface cooling, was established at Termination IB.
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