Lower oceanic δ13C during the last interglacial period compared to the Holocene

Type Article
Date 2021
Language English
Author(s) Bengtson Shannon A.1, 2, Menviel Laurie C.ORCID1, Meissner Katrin J.1, 2, Missiaen LiseORCID1, Peterson Carlye D.ORCID3, Lisiecki Lorraine E.4, Joos FortunatORCID5, 6
Affiliation(s) 1 : Climate Change Research Centre, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
2 : The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, Sydney, Australia
3 : Earth Sciences, University of California, Riverside, California, USA
4 : Department of Earth Science, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, USA
5 : Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Institute, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
6 : Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
Source Climate of the Past (1814-9332) (Copernicus GmbH), 2021 , Vol. 17 , N. 1 , P. 507-528
DOI 10.5194/cp-17-507-2021

The last time in Earth's history when high latitudes were warmer than during pre-industrial times was the last interglacial period (LIG, 129–116 ka BP). Since the LIG is the most recent and best documented interglacial, it can provide insights into climate processes in a warmer world. However, some key features of the LIG are not well constrained, notably the oceanic circulation and the global carbon cycle. Here, we use a new database of LIG benthic δ13C to investigate these two aspects. We find that the oceanic mean δ13C was  ∼  0.2 ‰ lower during the LIG (here defined as 125–120 ka BP) when compared to the Holocene (7–2 ka BP). A lower terrestrial carbon content at the LIG than during the Holocene could have led to both lower oceanic δ13C and atmospheric δ13CO2 as observed in paleo-records. However, given the multi-millennial timescale, the lower oceanic δ13C most likely reflects a long-term imbalance between weathering and burial of carbon. The δ13C distribution in the Atlantic Ocean suggests no significant difference in the latitudinal and depth extent of North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) between the LIG and the Holocene. Furthermore, the data suggest that the multi-millennial mean NADW transport was similar between these two time periods.

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Bengtson Shannon A., Menviel Laurie C., Meissner Katrin J., Missiaen Lise, Peterson Carlye D., Lisiecki Lorraine E., Joos Fortunat (2021). Lower oceanic δ13C during the last interglacial period compared to the Holocene. Climate of the Past, 17(1), 507-528. Publisher's official version : https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-17-507-2021 , Open Access version : https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00682/79397/