EGU24-12743, updated on 09 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Holocene Variability of the AMOC as derived from 231Pa/230Th

Lukas Gerber1, Jörg Lippold1, Finn Süfke1, Ole Valk1, Manuel Ehnis1, Saskia Tautenhahn1, Lars Max2, Cristiano M. Chiessi3, Marcel Regelous4, Sönke Szidat5,6, and Frerk Pöppelmeier7,6
Lukas Gerber et al.
  • 1Institute of Earth Sciences, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany
  • 2MARUM Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
  • 3School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
  • 4GeoZentrum Nordbayern, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany
  • 5Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  • 6Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  • 7Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Institute, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland

Climate models and paleo-reconstructions suggest that alterations in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) are not only indicators but also drivers of climate changes. Therefore, the AMOC is considered a critical tipping element within Earth’s climate system. Many lines of evidence indicate that the last glacial termination was characterised by large swings in AMOC strength, yet proxy evidence remains ambiguous about centennial-scale fluctuations during the Holocene. Inconsistencies persist regarding the timing, spatial pattern, and intensity of North Atlantic deep-water production. This study evaluates the variability of the AMOC during the Holocene based on several marine sediment cores covering the North Atlantic in high temporal resolution. For this, we exploit the 231Pa/230Th proxy, which indicates the bottom water advection strength. Additionally, past particle fluxes were reconstructed to determine a possible influence of particle composition and particle rain rate on the 231Pa/230Th signal. This study thus aims to extend existing paleo-circulation reconstructions of the AMOC from the last deglacial period with more recent analyses. Five new high-resolution 231Pa/230Th down-core records from different oceanographic settings and water depths in the North Atlantic consistently exhibit low variability throughout the entire Holocene. The 231Pa/230Th records generally display deviations of ± 10% from their respective Holocene mean. A generalised additive model (GAM) was fitted to the timeseries to detect mean North Atlantic trends within the different Holocene-normalised datasets. This model exhibits a virtually constant 231Pa/230Th level throughout the Holocene, interrupted by two time periods of slightly increased ratios, indicative of a weaker AMOC. The first time period is within the timeframe of the 8.2 ka event, characterised by a sudden cold spell across parts of the Northern Hemisphere. During this interval, four of the five timeseries show slightly elevated 231Pa/230Th ratios, although two records within this period hold a reduced sampling resolution. This limited temporal resolution and the shortness of the event make it challenging to decidedly conclude on the magnitude of the AMOC weakening during this time. The second period of higher 231Pa/230Th coincides with the 4.2 ka event and is only evident from the ODP 1063 data (Bermuda Rise). However, these higher 231Pa/230Th ratios can be explained by increased bottom scavenging of 231Pa presumably caused by benthic storms, induced by the transfer of eddy kinetic energy from the surface to the deep ocean. Consequently, atmospheric forcing during the 4.2 ka event seems to be a more plausible explanation than a paleoceanographic cause for the observed higher 231Pa/230Th. In conclusion, our study suggests that deep ocean circulation in the North Atlantic did not exhibit high variability on sub-millennial time scales, but has remained relatively stable throughout the Holocene.

How to cite: Gerber, L., Lippold, J., Süfke, F., Valk, O., Ehnis, M., Tautenhahn, S., Max, L., Chiessi, C. M., Regelous, M., Szidat, S., and Pöppelmeier, F.: Holocene Variability of the AMOC as derived from 231Pa/230Th, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-12743,, 2024.

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