Multiple ‘Stable’ States of Antarctic Intermediate Water: A Study from the Subantarctic South-West Atlantic.

Monday, 15 December 2014
Jenny Roberts1, David A Hodell1, Vicky L Peck2 and Sev Kender3, (1)University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom, (2)NERC British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, United Kingdom, (3)British Geological Survey, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Modelling studies suggest that density changes in Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW) played a significant role in the reorganisation of Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation over the last glacial period. From its principal site of formation in the SE Pacific, a significant proportion of AAIW is entrained in the Antarctic circumpolar current and enters the Atlantic through Drake Passage. Air-sea interaction within the subAntarctic SW Atlantic modifies this AAIW further, producing a cooler and fresher Atlantic end member of AAIW. Our core site is located where this branch of AAIW subducts and travels northwards along the western margin of the Atlantic basin.

We present the first high-resolution, multi-proxy study of AAIW in the sub-Antarctic SW Atlantic over the last 140 kyrs. Here, we focus on the temperature and salinity records over the last two glacial terminations and at the onset of the last glaciation. We use a combination of benthic stable isotopes and elemental ratios (Mg/Ca) on the shallow infaunal species Uvigerina peregrina to reconstruct AAIW temperature and salinity.

Our records suggest that AAIW temperature both increased and decreased in a step-wise manner over the last 120 kyrs hinting at 3 ‘stable’ states for AAIW through the last glacial cycle (see shaded areas within figure). Another common feature is a transient interval of apparently warm, saline AAIW observed at the onset of both glacial terminations – could this be evidence of the ‘deep, salty blob’ or of increased outflow of Pacific surface waters?

We identify some fundamental differences between termination I and termination II; AAIW appears to have been markedly warmer during MIS6 than at the LGM. Furthermore, the glacial-interglacial potential density difference is much greater over termination I than termination II.