Pleistocene dynamics of the Pacific South Equatorial Countercurrent
Abstract:The Western Pacific Warm Pool (WPWP) with extremely high sea-surface-temperatures (SST) is a key area for global climate. It also acts as a crossroad for mode and intermediate water masses such as the South Equatorial Countercurrent (SECC) transporting water masses originating from higher latitudes. The SECC flows above the main thermocline and strongly interacts with the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ). To constrain changes in sea-surface and subsurface water mass dynamics affecting thermocline depth, we reconstruct SST, subSST and salinity conditions using combined δ18O and Mg/Ca signals of surface (Globigerinoides ruber, Globigerinoides sacculifer) and subsurface dwelling (Globorotalia tumida) planktonic foraminifera. Our study is based on RV SONNE SO-225 piston cores retrieved from Manihiki plateau, which is located at the southeastern margin of the WPWP (between ~ 5°S-15°S and 170-160°W). The proxy records cover the last ~ 3 Myr
SSTMg/Ca remained nearly constant throughout the entire Pleistocene varying between ~30 to 32 (°C), while the subSSTMg/Ca reconstructions reveal pronounced variations from ~10 to 16 (°C). Our results imply that the WPWP thermocline depth has undergone significant vertical movements throughout the Pleistocene. Notably, thermocline depth is continuously decreasing from the early to the late Pleistocene, and coincides with the change from the 41 kyr to a dominant 100 kyr climate periodicity between 1 and 1.7 Ma. We hypothesize that the repeated change in thermocline depth is due to either 1) changes in mode or intermediate water masses advection from Southern Ocean sources via “ocean tunneling”, 2) changes in the tropical Pacific wind regime, and/or 3) changes in the Western Pacific Monsoon sytem.