Thermocline Temperature Variability Reveals Shifts in the Tropical Pacific Mean State across Marine Isotope Stage 3

Monday, 15 December 2014
Jennifer E Hertzberg and Matthew W Schmidt, Texas A & M University, College Station, TX, United States
The eastern equatorial Pacific (EEP) is one of the most dynamic oceanographic regions, making it a critical area for understanding past climate change. Despite this, there remains uncertainty on the climatic evolution of the EEP through the last glacial period. According to the ocean dynamical thermostat theory, warming (cooling) of the tropical Pacific Ocean may lead to a more La Niña (El Niño)-like mean state due to zonally asymmetric heating and subsequent easterly (westerly) wind anomalies at the equator (Clement and Cane, 1999). Attempts to understand these feedbacks on millennial timescales across Marine Isotope Stage 3 (MIS 3) have proven to be fruitful in the western equatorial Pacific (WEP) (Stott et al., 2002), yet complimentary, high-resolution records from the EEP are lacking. To provide a more complete understanding of the feedback mechanisms of the dynamical thermostat across periods of abrupt climate change, we reconstruct thermocline temperature variability across MIS 3 from a sediment core located in the EEP, directly within the equatorial cold tongue upwelling region (core MV1014-02-17JC). Temperature anomalies in thermocline waters of the EEP are integrally linked to the ENSO system, with large positive and negative anomalies recorded during El Niño and La Niña events, respectively. Mg/Ca ratios in the thermocline-dwelling planktonic foraminifera Neogloboquadrina dutertrei were measured at 2 cm intervals, resulting in a temporal resolution of <200 years. Preliminary results across Interstadials 5-7 reveal warmer thermocline temperatures (an increase in Mg/Ca of .25 ± .02 mmol/mol) during periods of cooling following peak Interstadial warmth over Greenland, as seen from the NGRIP δ18O record. Thus, periods of cooling over Greenland appear to correspond to an El Niño-like mean state in the tropical Pacific, in line with predictions of an ocean dynamical thermostat. Interestingly, Heinrich Event 3 corresponds to cooler thermocline temperatures, suggesting a different forcing mechanism of tropical Pacific mean state variability across Heinrich Events. The record will be extended back to 80 kyr BP, and we will also measure Globigerinoides ruber Mg/Ca ratios across MIS 3 to calculate the zonal E-W sea surface temperature gradient using published records from the WEP.