Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Strengthening Atlantic inflow across the mid-pleistocene transition

Barker, Stephen ORCID:, Zhang, Xu, Jonkers, Lukas, Lordsmith, Sian, Conn, Stephen and Knorr, Gregor 2021. Strengthening Atlantic inflow across the mid-pleistocene transition. Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology 36 (4) , e2020PA004200. 10.1029/2020PA004200

[thumbnail of 2020PA004200.pdf]
PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (6MB) | Preview


The development of larger and longer lasting northern hemisphere ice sheets during the mid‐Pleistocene Transition (MPT) coincided with global cooling. Here, we show that surface waters of the north‐eastern Atlantic actually warmed across this interval (∼1.2–0.8 Ma), which we argue reflects an increase in the north‐eastward transport of heat and moisture via the North Atlantic Current (NAC) into the Nordic Seas (the Atlantic Inflow). We suggest that simultaneous cooling and warming along the north‐western and south‐eastern margins (respectively) of the NAC during Marine Isotope Stage 28 (∼995 ka) reflected the increasing persistence of northern ice sheets as Atlantic Inflow increased. This resulted in a diachronous shift from ∼40 to ∼100 kyr cyclicity across the North East (NE) Atlantic as the growing influence of northern ice sheets spread southwards; to the north‐west of the NAC the first “100 kyr” cycle preceded Termination 12 (∼960 ka), while on the south‐eastern margin of the NAC the transition occurred ∼100 kyr later. Exploratory climate model simulations suggest that increasing Atlantic Inflow at this time could have accelerated ice sheet growth because pre‐existing moderately sized ice sheets allowed the positive effect of increasing precipitation to outpace melting. In addition, we propose that the dependence of post‐MPT ice sheets on moisture transport via the Atlantic Inflow may ultimately contribute to their apparent vulnerability to insolation forcing once a critical size threshold is crossed and high latitude ice sheets become starved of a vital moisture source.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: American Geophysical Union
ISSN: 2572-4525
Funders: NERC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 1 April 2021
Date of Acceptance: 24 March 2021
Last Modified: 11 May 2023 19:37

Citation Data

Cited 2 times in Scopus. View in Scopus. Powered By Scopus® Data

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics