Atlantic Deep-water Response to the Early Pliocene Shoaling of the Central American Seaway.
ABSTRACT: The early Pliocene shoaling of the Central American Seaway (CAS), ~4.7-4.2 million years ago (mega annum-Ma), is thought to have strengthened Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). The associated increase in northward flux of heat and moisture may have significantly influenced the evolution of Pliocene climate. While some evidence for the predicted increase in North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) formation exists in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic, similar evidence is missing in the wider Atlantic. Here, we present stable carbon (δ(13)C) and oxygen (δ(18)O) isotope records from the Southeast Atlantic-a key region for monitoring the southern extent of NADW. Using these data, together with other δ(13)C and δ(18)O records from the Atlantic, we assess the impact of the early Pliocene CAS shoaling phase on deep-water circulation. We find that NADW formation was vigorous prior to 4.7 Ma and showed limited subsequent change. Hence, the overall structure of the deep Atlantic was largely unaffected by the early Pliocene CAS shoaling, corroborating other evidence that indicates larger changes in NADW resulted from earlier and deeper shoaling phases. This finding implies that the early Pliocene shoaling of the CAS had no profound impact on the evolution of climate.
Project description:The large-scale reorganization of deep ocean circulation in the Atlantic involving changes in North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) and Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) played a critical role in regulating hemispheric and global climate during the last deglaciation. However, changes in the relative contributions of NADW and AABW and their properties are poorly constrained by marine records, including ?18O of benthic foraminiferal calcite (?18Oc). Here, we use an isotope-enabled ocean general circulation model with realistic geometry and forcing conditions to simulate the deglacial water mass and ?18O evolution. Model results suggest that, in response to North Atlantic freshwater forcing during the early phase of the last deglaciation, NADW nearly collapses, while AABW mildly weakens. Rather than reflecting changes in NADW or AABW properties caused by freshwater input as suggested previously, the observed phasing difference of deep ?18Oc likely reflects early warming of the deep northern North Atlantic by ?1.4 °C, while deep Southern Ocean temperature remains largely unchanged. We propose a thermodynamic mechanism to explain the early warming in the North Atlantic, featuring a strong middepth warming and enhanced downward heat flux via vertical mixing. Our results emphasize that the way that ocean circulation affects heat, a dynamic tracer, is considerably different from how it affects passive tracers, like ?18O, and call for caution when inferring water mass changes from ?18Oc records while assuming uniform changes in deep temperatures.
Project description:Although the responses of North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) is deeply connected to orbital rhythms, those under different tectonic and atmospheric boundary conditions remain unknown. Here, we report suborbitally resolved benthic foraminiferal stable isotope data from J-anomaly Ridge in the North Atlantic from ca. 26.4-26.0 Ma. Our results indicate that the formation of NADW during that time interval was increased during the obliquity-paced interglacial periods, similar to in the Plio-Pleistocene. During the late Oligocene, the interglacial poleward shifts of the stronger westerlies in the southern hemisphere, which occurred due to the higher thermal contrasts near the upper limit of the troposphere, reinforced the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) and, in turn, the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). However, such a response mode in deep ocean circulation did not occur during the middle Eocene because of different tectonic boundary conditions and the immature states of the ACC. Instead, the middle Eocene interglacial conditions weakened the formation of the proto-type NADW due to less heat loss rate in high-latitude regions of the North Atlantic during high obliquity periods. Our findings highlight the different responses of deep ocean circulation to orbital forcing and show that climate feedbacks can be largely sensitive to boundary conditions.
Project description:Tectonically induced changes in oceanic seaways had profound effects on global and regional climate during the Late Neogene. The constriction of the Central American Seaway reached a critical threshold during the early Pliocene ~4.8-4 million years (Ma) ago. Model simulations indicate the strengthening of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) with a signature warming response in the Northern Hemisphere and cooling in the Southern Hemisphere. Subsequently, between ~4-3?Ma, the constriction of the Indonesian Seaway impacted regional climate and might have accelerated the Northern Hemisphere Glaciation. We here present Pliocene Atlantic interhemispheric sea surface temperature and salinity gradients (deduced from foraminiferal Mg/Ca and stable oxygen isotopes, ?<sup>18</sup>O) in combination with a recently published benthic stable carbon isotope (?<sup>13</sup>C) record from the southernmost extent of North Atlantic Deep Water to reconstruct gateway-related changes in the AMOC mode. After an early reduction of the AMOC at ~5.3?Ma, we show in agreement with model simulations of the impacts of Central American Seaway closure a strengthened AMOC with a global climate signature. During ~3.8-3?Ma, we suggest a weakening of the AMOC in line with the global cooling trend, with possible contributions from the constriction of the Indonesian Seaway.
Project description:Several studies indicate that North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) formation might have initiated during the globally warm Eocene (56-34 Ma). However, constraints on Eocene surface ocean conditions in source regions presently conducive to deep water formation are sparse. Here we test whether ocean conditions of the middle Eocene Labrador Sea might have allowed for deep water formation by applying (organic) geochemical and palynological techniques, on sediments from Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Site 647. We reconstruct a long-term sea surface temperature (SST) drop from ~30°C to ~27°C between 41.5 to 38.5 Ma, based on TEX86. Superimposed on this trend, we record ~2°C warming in SST associated with the Middle Eocene Climatic Optimum (MECO; ~40 Ma), which is the northernmost MECO record as yet, and another, likely regional, warming phase at ~41.1 Ma, associated with low-latitude planktic foraminifera and dinoflagellate cyst incursions. Dinoflagellate cyst assemblages together with planktonic foraminiferal stable oxygen isotope ratios overall indicate low surface water salinities and strong stratification. Benthic foraminifer stable carbon and oxygen isotope ratios differ from global deep ocean values by 1-2‰ and 2-4‰, respectively, indicating geographic basin isolation. Our multiproxy reconstructions depict a consistent picture of relatively warm and fresh but also highly variable surface ocean conditions in the middle Eocene Labrador Sea. These conditions were unlikely conducive to deep water formation. This implies either NADW did not yet form during the middle Eocene or it formed in a different source region and subsequently bypassed the southern Labrador Sea.
Project description:The Nd isotope composition of seawater has been used to reconstruct past changes in the contribution of different water masses to the deep ocean. In the absence of contrary information, the Nd isotope compositions of endmember water masses are usually assumed constant during the Quaternary. Here we show that the Nd isotope composition of North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW), a major component of the global overturning ocean circulation, was significantly more radiogenic than modern during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), and shifted towards modern values during the deglaciation. We propose that weathering contributions of unradiogenic Nd modulated by the North American Ice Sheet dominated the evolution of the NADW Nd isotope endmember. If water mass mixing dominated the distribution of deep glacial Atlantic Nd isotopes, our results would imply a larger fraction of NADW in the deep Atlantic during the LGM and deglaciation than reconstructed with a constant northern endmember.
Project description:Constraining the response time of the climate system to changes in North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) formation is fundamental to improving climate and Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation predictability. Here we report a new synchronization of terrestrial, marine, and ice-core records, which allows the first quantitative determination of the response time of North Atlantic climate to changes in high-latitude NADW formation rate during the last deglaciation. Using a continuous record of deep water ventilation from the Nordic Seas, we identify a ∼400-year lead of changes in high-latitude NADW formation ahead of abrupt climate changes recorded in Greenland ice cores at the onset and end of the Younger Dryas stadial, which likely occurred in response to gradual changes in temperature- and wind-driven freshwater transport. We suggest that variations in Nordic Seas deep-water circulation are precursors to abrupt climate changes and that future model studies should address this phasing.
Project description:Oceanic protist grazing at mesopelagic and bathypelagic depths, and their subsequent effects on trophic links between eukaryotes and prokaryotes, are not well constrained. Recent studies show evidence of higher than expected grazing activity by protists down to mesopelagic depths. This study provides the first exploration of protist grazing in the bathypelagic North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW). Grazing was measured throughout the water column at three stations in the South Atlantic using fluorescently-labeled prey analogues. Grazing in the deep Antarctic Intermediate water (AAIW) and NADW at all three stations removed 3.79% ± 1.72% to 31.14% ± 8.24% of the standing prokaryote stock. These results imply that protist grazing may be a significant source of labile organic carbon at certain meso- and bathypelagic depths.
Project description:We hypothesized that mixing zones of deep-water masses act as ecotones leading to alterations in microbial diversity and activity due to changes in the biogeochemical characteristics of these boundary systems. We determined the changes in prokaryotic and viral abundance and production in the Vema Fracture Zone (VFZ) of the subtropical North Atlantic Ocean, where North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) and Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) are funneled through this narrow canyon and therefore, are subjected to intense vertical mixing. Consequently, salinity, potential temperature, oxygen, PO4, SiO4, NO3 were altered in the NADW inside the VFZ as compared to the NADW outside of the VFZ. Also, viral abundance, lytic viral production (VP) and the virus-to-prokaryote ratio (VPR) were elevated in the NADW in the VFZ as compared to the NADW outside the VFZ. In contrast to lytic VP, lysogenic VP and both the frequency of lytically (FIC) and lysogenically infected cells (FLC) did not significantly differ between in- and outside the VFZ. Generally, FIC was higher than FLC throughout the water column. Prokaryotic (determined by T-RFLP) and viral (determined by RAPD-PCR) community composition was depth-stratified inside and outside the VFZ. The viral community was more modified both with depth and over distance inside the VFZ as compared to the northern section and to the prokaryotic communities. However, no clusters of prokaryotic and viral communities characteristic for the VFZ were identified. Based on our observations, we conclude that turbulent mixing of the deep water masses impacts not only the physico-chemical parameters of the mixing zone but also the interaction between viruses and prokaryotes due to a stimulation of the overall activity. However, only minor effects of deep water mixing were observed on the community composition of the dominant prokaryotes and viruses.
Project description:An essential element of modern ocean circulation and climate is the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), which includes deep-water formation in the subarctic North Atlantic. However, a comparable overturning circulation is absent in the Pacific, the world's largest ocean, where relatively fresh surface waters inhibit North Pacific deep convection. We present complementary measurement and modeling evidence that the warm, ~400-ppmv (parts per million by volume) CO2 world of the Pliocene supported subarctic North Pacific deep-water formation and a Pacific meridional overturning circulation (PMOC) cell. In Pliocene subarctic North Pacific sediments, we report orbitally paced maxima in calcium carbonate accumulation rate, with accompanying pigment and total organic carbon measurements supporting deep-ocean ventilation-driven preservation as their cause. Together with high accumulation rates of biogenic opal, these findings require vigorous bidirectional communication between surface waters and interior waters down to ~3 km in the western subarctic North Pacific, implying deep convection. Redox-sensitive trace metal data provide further evidence of higher Pliocene deep-ocean ventilation before the 2.73-Ma (million years) transition. This observational analysis is supported by climate modeling results, demonstrating that atmospheric moisture transport changes, in response to the reduced meridional sea surface temperature gradients of the Pliocene, were capable of eroding the halocline, leading to deep-water formation in the western subarctic Pacific and a strong PMOC. This second Northern Hemisphere overturning cell has important implications for heat transport, the ocean/atmosphere cycle of carbon, and potentially the equilibrium response of the Pacific to global warming.
Project description:The extinct giant shark Otodus megalodon is the last member of the predatory megatoothed lineage and is reported from Neogene sediments from nearly all continents. The timing of the extinction of Otodus megalodon is thought to be Pliocene, although reports of Pleistocene teeth fuel speculation that Otodus megalodon may still be extant. The longevity of the Otodus lineage (Paleocene to Pliocene) and its conspicuous absence in the modern fauna begs the question: when and why did this giant shark become extinct? Addressing this question requires a densely sampled marine vertebrate fossil record in concert with a robust geochronologic framework. Many historically important basins with stacked Otodus-bearing Neogene marine vertebrate fossil assemblages lack well-sampled and well-dated lower and upper Pliocene strata (e.g., Atlantic Coastal Plain). The fossil record of California, USA, and Baja California, Mexico, provides such an ideal sequence of assemblages preserved within well-dated lithostratigraphic sequences. This study reviews all records of Otodus megalodon from post-Messinian marine strata from western North America and evaluates their reliability. All post-Zanclean Otodus megalodon occurrences from the eastern North Pacific exhibit clear evidence of reworking or lack reliable provenance; the youngest reliable records of Otodus megalodon are early Pliocene, suggesting an extinction at the early-late Pliocene boundary (?3.6 Ma), corresponding with youngest occurrences of Otodus megalodon in Japan, the North Atlantic, and Mediterranean. This study also reevaluates a published dataset, thoroughly vetting each occurrence and justifying the geochronologic age of each, as well as excluding several dubious records. Reanalysis of the dataset using optimal linear estimation resulted in a median extinction date of 3.51 Ma, somewhat older than a previously proposed Pliocene-Pleistocene extinction date (2.6 Ma). Post-middle Miocene oceanographic changes and cooling sea surface temperature may have resulted in range fragmentation, while alongside competition with the newly evolved great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) during the Pliocene may have led to the demise of the megatoothed shark. Alternatively, these findings may also suggest a globally asynchronous extinction of Otodus megalodon.