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The role of deep ocean circulation in setting glacial climates

Adkins, Jess F. (2013) The role of deep ocean circulation in setting glacial climates. Paleoceanography, 28 (3). pp. 539-561. ISSN 0883-8305.

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The glacial cycles of the Pleistocene involve changes in the circulation of the deep ocean in important ways. This review seeks to establish what were the robust patterns of deep-sea water mass changes and how they might have influenced important parts of the last glacial cycle. After a brief review of how tracers in the modern ocean can be used to understand the distribution of water masses, I examine the data for biogeochemical, circulation rate, and conservative tracers during glacial climates. Some of the robust results from the literature of the last 30 years include: a shoaled version of northern source deep water in the Atlantic, expanded southern source water in the abyss and deep ocean, salt (rather than heat) stratification of the last glacial maximum (LGM) deep-sea, and several lines of evidence for slower overturning circulation in the southern deep cell. We combine these observations into a new idea for how the ocean-atmosphere system moves from interglacial to glacial periods across a single cycle. By virtue of its influence on the melting of land-based ice around Antarctica, cooling North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) leads to a cold and salty version of Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW). This previously underappreciated feedback can lead to a more stratified deep ocean that operates as a more effective carbon trap than the modern, helping to lower atmospheric CO_2 and providing a mechanism for the deep ocean to synchronize the hemispheres in a positive feedback that drives the system to further cooling.

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Adkins, Jess F.0000-0002-3174-5190
Additional Information:© 2013 American Geophysical Union. Received 2 January 2013; revised 1 August 2013; accepted 16 August 2013; published 19 September 2013. This work has greatly benefited from conversations with many people over the years. Ed Boyle and Danny Sigman have taught me much of what I know about the carbonate system, though any mistakes about CO_2 feedbacks in this paper are mine alone. A sabbatical in the CNRS lab at Gif-sur-Yvette provided the time and intellectual space for the initial idea about feedbacks between NADW and AABW formation to germinate into a nascent theory of glacial to interglacial change. I thank them immensely for their hospitality, good humor, and critical ears. My group at Caltech has provided both new ideas and a sounding board for this paper during its long development. Madeline Miller and Andrea Burke are especially thanked for close readings of a fairly complete draft. Two reviewers, Luke Skinner and one anonymous, provided a careful, close, and critical reading of the manuscript that helped improve it greatly. Finally, Chris Charles was an extremely patient editor as well as an important critic of this paper during its several incarnations. I am deeply indebted to him for his help. This work was partially supported by NSF grants OCE 1204211 and OCE 0929272.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSFOCE 1204211
NSFOCE 0929272
Subject Keywords:review; deep circulation; tracers
Issue or Number:3
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20131108-091133838
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Official Citation:Adkins, J. F. (2013), The role of deep ocean circulation in setting glacial climates, Paleoceanography, 28, 539–561, doi:10.1002/palo.20046
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:42331
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:08 Nov 2013 19:13
Last Modified:24 Feb 2020 10:30

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