Gulf Stream-Subtropical Gyre Properties Across Two Dansgaard-Oeschger Cycles

Monday, 15 December 2014
Babette Hoogakker1, Mark Chapman2, Henry Elderfield3, I.N. Nicholas McCave1 and Jens Gruetzner4, (1)University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, (2)UEA, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom, (3)University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom, (4)Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz-Center for Polar and Marine Research Bremerhaven, Bremerhaven, Germany
It has been suggested that salinity increases in the subtropical gyre system may have pre-conditioned the North Atlantic Ocean for a rapid return to stronger overturning circulation and high-latitude warming following meltwater events during the Last Glacial period (Schmidt et al., 2006).

Planktonic foraminifera oxygen isotopes (δ18O) measured on the surface dwelling Globigerinoides ruber show a positive gradient going from the Gulf Stream into the subtropical gyre during the Holocene as well as the Last Glacial Maximum (Keigwin, 2004). This gradient is due to decreasing temperatures, increasing salinity and a change from a summer to year round occurrence of G. ruber(Keigwin, 2004).

During rapid climate oscillations between 54 and 46 ka of Marine Isotope Stage 3, including Heinrich ice-rafting event 5, this gradient may have been largely absent; G. ruber δ18O of ODP Site 1060 (subtropical gyre location) and ODP Site 1056 (Gulf Stream location) are virtually identical. Lower G. ruber δ18O that characterize the major warm DO interstadials 14 and 12 suggest a mainly summer occurrence of this species and indicate a more zonal and wider Gulf Stream influencing both ODP Sites. A large vertical δ18O gradient between shallow dwelling G. ruber and the deep dwelling species Globorotalia inflataat site 1056 is associated with strong summer stratification, supporting a Gulf Stream presence during these major interstadials.

From about 51 ka until the end of Heinrich event 5 G. ruber δ18O is increased and the δ18O gradient between G. ruber and G. inflata is greatly reduced, suggesting a more year round occurrence of G. ruber and absence of summer stratification at site 1056, associated with subtropical gyre conditions. From this we infer that the Gulf Stream may have taken up a position nearer to the continental shelf during this cold period, where it may have been narrower with reduced transport.