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Christof Pearce

Late quaternary sea-ice and sedimentary redox conditions in the eastern Bering Sea – Implications for ventilation of the mid-depth North Pacific and an Atlantic-Pacific seesaw mechanism

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  • Henrieka Detlef
  • Sindia M. Sosdian, Cardiff University
  • ,
  • Simon T. Belt, University of Plymouth
  • ,
  • Lukas Smik, University of Plymouth
  • ,
  • Caroline H. Lear, Cardiff University
  • ,
  • Sev Kender, University of Exeter
  • ,
  • Christof Pearce
  • Ian R. Hall, Cardiff University

On glacial-interglacial and millennial timescales, sea ice is an important player in the circulation and primary productivity of high latitude oceans, affecting regional and global biogeochemical cycling. In the modern North Pacific, brine rejection during sea-ice freezing in the Sea of Okhotsk drives the formation of North Pacific Intermediate Water (NPIW) that ventilates the North Pacific Ocean at 300 m–1000 m water depth. Glacial intervals of the late Quaternary, however, experienced a deepening of glacial NPIW to at least 2000 m, with the strongest ventilation observed during cold stadial conditions of the last deglaciation. However, the origin of the shifts in NPIW ventilation is poorly understood. Numerical simulations suggest an atmospheric teleconnection between the North Atlantic and the North Pacific, in response to a slowdown or shutdown of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation. This leads to a build-up of salinity in the North Pacific surface ocean, triggering deep ventilation. Alternatively, increased sea-ice formation in the North Pacific and its marginal seas may have caused strengthened overturning in response to enhanced brine rejection. Here we use a multi-proxy approach to explore sea-ice dynamics, sedimentary redox chemistry, and benthic ecology at Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Site U1343 in the eastern Bering Sea across the last 40 ka. Our results suggest that brine rejection from enhanced sea-ice formation during early Heinrich Stadial 1 locally weakened the halocline, aiding in the initiation of deep overturning. Additionally, deglacial sea-ice retreat likely contributed to increased primary productivity and expansion of mid-depth hypoxia at Site U1343 during interstadial conditions, confirming a vital role of sea ice in the deglacial North Pacific carbon cycle.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106549
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

    Research areas

  • Bering Sea, Foraminiferal assemblages, Foraminiferal geochemistry, Late Quaternary, Marine biomarkers, Northern Pacific, NPIW, Paleoceanography, U/Mn

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