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Spatially extensive and intense phytoplankton blooms observed off Iberia, in satellite pictures, are driven by significant nutrient supply by upper-ocean vertical mesoscale activity rather than by horizontal advection by coastal upwelling. Productivity of oligotrophic regions is still poorly depicted by discrete instrumental and model data sets. The paleoproductivity reconstructions of these areas represent the mean productivity over long periods, bringing new insights into the total biomass fluxes. Here, we present paleoproductivity records from the oceanic Tore Seamount region, covering the period from 140 to 60 ka. They show higher nutrient supplies during Termination II, Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage (MIS) 4, MIS 6, and warming transitions of the MIS 5 sub-stages. The highest nutrient content (higher productivity) in phase with tracers of bottom-water ventilation (benthic δ13C,231Pa/230Th) establishes a strong linkage with variability of Southern Ocean-sourced waters. Low productivity and ventilation over warm sub-stages of MIS 5 respond instead to North Atlantic Deep Water. Assuming that the Tore Seamount is representative of oligotrophic regions, the glacial-interglacial relationship observed between paleoproductivity and Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation strength opens new insights into the importance of estimating the total biomass in these regions. The subtropical gyres might play a considerable role in the carbon cycle over (sub-)glacial-interglacial time scales than previously thought.
A high resolution analysis of benthic foraminifera as well as of aeolian terrigenous proxies extracted from a 37 m-long marine core located off the Mauritanian margin spanning the last ~ 1.2 Ma, documents the possible link between major continental environmental changes with a shift in the isotopic signature of deep waters around 1.0–0.9 Ma, within the so-called Mid-Pleistocene Transition (MPT) time period. The increase in the oxygen isotopic composition of deep waters, as seen through the benthic foraminifera δ18O values, is consistent with the growth of larger ice sheets known to have occurred during this transition. Deep-water mass δ13C changes, also estimated from benthic foraminifera, show a strong depletion for the same time interval. This drastic change in δ13C values is concomitant with a worldwide 0.3‰ decrease observed in the major deep oceanic waters for the MPT time period. The phase relationship between aeolian terrigeneous signal increase and this δ13C decrease in our record, as well as in other paleorecords, supports the hypothesis of a global aridification amongst others processes to explain the deep-water masses isotopic signature changes during the MPT. In any case, the isotopic shifts imply major changes in the end-member δ18O and δ13C values of deep waters.
We applied magnetostratigraphy and mammal biostratigraphy to date climate-sensitive pollen cycles and lithostratigraphic units of the Pliocene–Pleistocene Leffe sedimentary succession from the Southern Alps, Italy. The Leffe section was correlated to additional sections (Casnigo, Fornaci di Ranica, and Pianengo) to construct a stratigraphic network along a common fluviatile system (the Serio River) sourced in the Southern Alps and flowing southward into the Po River Basin. We obtained a coherent scenario of climate variability for the last ∼ 2 Myr. At Leffe, lacustrine deposition commenced during the Olduvai Normal Subchron (1.94–1.78 Ma) and lasted up to a chronologic level compatible with Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 22 (0.87 Ma). Pollen analysis revealed that climate varied cyclically from warm-temperate to cool during this time interval, but never as cold as during glacial intervals. At around MIS 22, climate cooled globally. Gravels, attributed to high-energy braided river systems fed locally by alluvial fans, prograded from the Serio River catchment area over the Leffe Basin and toward the Po Plain in response to a generalized event of vegetation withdrawal and enhanced physical erosion. At this time, Alpine valley glaciers reached their first maximum southward expansion with glacier fronts located at only ∼ 5 km upstream from Leffe.
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