Sea surface temperature variability in the Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean over the past 700 kyr

Sze Ling Ho, Gesine Mollenhauer, Frank Lamy, Alfredo Martínez-Garcia, Mahyar Mohtadi, Rainer Gersonde, Dierk Hebbeln, Samuel Nunez-Ricardo, Antoni Rosell-Melé, Ralf Tiedemann

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47 Citations (Scopus)


In spite of the important role played by the Southern Ocean in global climate, the few existing paleoceanographic records in the east Pacific sector do not extend beyond one glacial-interglacial cycle, hindering circumpolar comparison of past sea surface temperature (SST) evolution in the Southern Ocean. Here we present three alkenone-based Pleistocene SST records from the subantarctic and subtropical Pacific. We use a regional core top calibration data set to constrain the choice of calibrations for paleo SST estimation. Our core top data confirm that the alkenone-based U<sup>K</sup><inf>37</inf> and U<sup>K</sup><inf>37</inf> values correlate linearly with the SST, in a similar fashion as the most commonly used laboratory culture-based calibrations even at low temperatures (down to ∼1C), rendering these calibrations appropriate for application in the subantarctic Pacific. However, these alkenone indices yield diverging temporal trends in the Pleistocene SST records. On the basis of the better agreement with δ<sup>18</sup>O records and other SST records in the subantarctic Southern Ocean, we propose that the U<sup>K</sup><inf>37</inf> is a better index for SST reconstruction in this region than the more commonly used U<sup>K</sup><inf>37</inf> index. The U<sup>K</sup><inf>37</inf>-derived SST records suggest glacial cooling of ∼8C and ∼4C in the subantarctic and subtropical Pacific, respectively. Such extent of subantarctic glacial cooling is comparable to that in other sectors of the Southern Ocean, indicating a uniform circumpolar cooling during the Pleistocene. Furthermore, our SST records also imply massive equatorward migrations of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) frontal systems and an enhanced transport of ACC water to lower latitudes during glacials by the Peru-Chile Current. © 2012. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberPA4202
JournalPaleoceanography and Paleoclimatology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012


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