Progressive reduction in NE Atlantic intermediate water ventilation prior to Heinrich events: Response to NW European ice sheet instabilities?

V. L. Peck, I. R. Hall, R. Zahn, J. D. Scourse

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27 Citations (Scopus)


We present high-resolution benthic δ13C records from intermediate water depth core site MD01-2461(1153 m water depth), from the Porcupine Seabight, NE Atlantic, spanning 43 to 8 kyr B.P. At an averageproxy time step of 160 ± 56 years this core provides information on the linkage between records from the Portuguese Margin and high-latitude North Atlantic basin, allowing additional insights into North Atlantic thermohaline circulation (THC) variability during millennial-scale climatic events of the last glacial. Together, these records document both discrete and progressive reductions in Glacial North Atlantic Intermediate Water (GNAIW) formation preceding Heinrich (H) events 1, 2, and 4, recorded through the apparent interchange of glacial northern and southern-sourced intermediate water signatures along the European Margin. Close coupling of NW European ice sheet (NWEIS) instability and GNAIW formation is observed through transient advances of SCW along the European margin concurrent with pulses of icerafted debris and meltwater release into the NE Atlantic between 27 and 16 kyr B.P., when the NWEIS was at maximum extent and proximal to Last Glacial Maximum convection zones in the open North Atlantic. It is such NWEIS instability and meltwater forcing that may have triggered reduced North Atlantic THC prior to collapse of the Laurentide ice sheet at H1 and H2. Precursory reduction in GNAIW formation prior to H4 may also be inferred. However, limited NWEIS ice volume prior to H4 and convection occurring in the Norwegian-Greenland Sea require that if a meltwater trigger is invoked, as appears to be the case at H1 and H2, the source of meltwater prior to H4 is elsewhere, likely higher-latitude ice sheets. Clarification of the sequencing and likely mechanisms of precursory decrease of the North Atlantic THC support theories of H event initiation relating to ice shelf growth during cold periods associated with reduced North Atlantic THC and subsequent ablation through subsurface warming and sea level rise associated with further reductions in meridional overturning. Copyright 2007 by the American Geophysical Union.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberQ01N10
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007


  • Atlantic thermohaline circulation
  • Benthic carbon isotopes
  • Heinrich events
  • Meltwater forcing


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