Potential links between surging ice sheets, circulation changes, and the Dansgaard-Oeschger cycles in the Irminger Sea, 60-18 kyr

S van Kreveld*, M Sarnthein, H Erlenkeuser, P Grootes, S Jung, MJ Nadeau, U Pflaumann, A Voelker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Surface and deepwater paleoclimate records in Irminger Sea core SO82-5 (59 degrees N, 31 degrees W) and Icelandic Sea core PS2644 (68 degrees N, 22 degrees W) exhibit large fluctuations in thermohaline circulation (THC) from 60 to 18 calendar kyr B.P., with a dominant periodicity of 1460 years from 46 to 22 calendar kyr B.P., matching the Dansgaard-Oeschger (D-O) cycles in the Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 (GISP2) temperature record [Grootes and Stuiver, 1997]. During interstadials, summer sea surface temperatures (SSTsu) in the Irminger Sea averaged to 8 degrees C, and sea surface salinities (SSS) averaged to similar to 36.5, recording a strong Irminger Current and Atlantic THC. During stadials, SSTsu dropped to 2 degrees-4 degrees C, in phase with SSS drops by similar to 1-2. They reveal major meltwater injections along with the East Greenland Current, which turned off the North Atlantic deepwater convection and hence the heat advection to the north, in harmony with various ocean circulation and ice models. On the basis of the IRD composition, icebergs came from Iceland, east Greenland, and perhaps Svalbard and other northern ice sheets. However, the southward drifting icebergs were initially jammed in the Denmark Strait, reaching the Irminger Sea only with a lag of 155-195 years. We also conclude that the abrupt stadial terminations, the D-O warming events, were tied to iceberg melt via abundant seasonal sea ice and brine water formation in the meltwater-covered northwestern North Atlantic. In the 1/1460-year frequency band, benthic delta(18)O brine water spikes led the temperature maxima above Greenland and in the Irminger Sea by as little as 95 years. Thus abundant brine formation, which was induced by seasonal freezing of large parts of the northwestern Atlantic, may have, finally entrained a current of warm surface water from the subtropics and thereby triggered the sudden reactivation of the THC. In summary, the internal dynamics of the east Greenland ice sheet may have formed the ultimate pacemaker of D-O cycles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-442
Number of pages18
JournalPaleoceanography
Volume15
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2000

Keywords

  • LAST GLACIAL PERIOD
  • NORTH-ATLANTIC OCEAN
  • HEINRICH EVENTS
  • GREENLAND ICE
  • REYKJANES RIDGE
  • CLIMATE-CHANGE
  • RAFTED DEBRIS
  • LABRADOR SEA
  • NORDIC SEAS
  • THERMOHALINE CIRCULATION

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