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Last deglacial abrupt climate changes caused by meltwater pulses in the Labrador Sea

You, Defang, Stein, Ruediger, Fahl, Kirsten, Williams, Maricel C., Schmidt, Daniela N., McCave, Ian Nicholas, Barker, Stephen ORCID:, Schefuß, Enno, Niu, Lu, Kuhn, Gerhard and Niessen, Frank 2023. Last deglacial abrupt climate changes caused by meltwater pulses in the Labrador Sea. Communications Earth & Environment 4 (1) , 81. 10.1038/s43247-023-00743-3

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Freshwater perturbations are often thought to be associated with abrupt climate changes during the last deglaciation, while many uncertainties remain regarding the exact timing, pathway, mechanism, and influence of meltwater release. Here, we present very well-dated and high-resolution records from the eastern Labrador Sea representing the last 19.000 years, which demonstrate abrupt changes in sea surface characteristics. Four millennial-scale meltwater events have been identified between the last 14.000 and 8.200 years based on independent biomarker proxies and X-ray fluorescence scanning data. These events are characterized by increased sea ice formation and decreased sea surface temperatures which might have occurred within a few decades. We propose these abrupt changes were triggered by meltwater pulsing into the Labrador Sea periodically, resulting from collapse of the Laurentide-Greenland Ice Sheets caused by (sub-)surface ocean warming in the Labrador Sea. Our findings provide more precise information about impact of freshwater forcing on abrupt climate changes, which may help to improve simulations for past and future changes in ocean circulation and climate.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Additional Information: License information from Publisher: LICENSE 1: URL:, Type: open-access
Publisher: Nature Research
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 20 March 2023
Date of Acceptance: 3 March 2023
Last Modified: 30 May 2023 21:44

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