Trends and centennial-scale variability of surface water temperatures in the North Atlantic during the Holocene

Two sediment cores retrieved off North Iceland (western Nordic Seas) and on the eastern flank of Reykjanes Ridge (Iceland Basin) were analyzed to generate high-resolution alkenone-derived sea surface temperature (SST) records to investigate North Atlantic Ocean circulation changes during the Holocene. Early Holocene SSTs off North Iceland were unstable (10 ± 1 °C) and 3 °C warmer than today reflecting active northward heat transport of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) interrupted by intermittent Polar Waters incursions onto the North Icelandic shelf. The Holocene thermal optimum occurred synchronously east of Reykjanes Ridge, with a mean value of 11.5 °C (±0.5 °C) similar to today, consistent with a sustained influence of AMOC. Both records indicate that the circulation across the North Atlantic intensified between 8000 and 7000 yr BP. Thereafter, SSTs in the two basin sites broadly depict opposing trends and centennial-scale oscillations and a notable cooling at ∼5300 yr BP that coincides with Bond 4 event and the temporary collapse of the deep-water circulation. From 2500 yr BP onwards, SSTs in the Iceland Basin and the western Nordic Seas diverge leading to a marked cooling/warming dipole resulting in a temperature difference today of 4.5 °C. We show that SST trends and centennial-scale variability reflect variations of the subpolar gyre (SPG) circulation linked to drifting ice events and convection changes in the Labrador and Nordic Seas.


Alkenones, SST, Holocene, North Atlantic, Subpolar gyre circulation

Full Text

Publisher's official version
81 Mo
Multimedia component 1.
1330 Ko
Multimedia component 2.
1607 Ko
Multimedia component 3.
1351 Ko
Multimedia component 4.
1819 Ko
Multimedia component 5.
1529 Ko
Author's final draft
14586 Ko
How to cite
Sicre Marie-Alexandrine, Jalali Bassem, Eiríksson Jón, Knudsen Karen-Luise, Klein Vincent, Pellichero Violaine (2021). Trends and centennial-scale variability of surface water temperatures in the North Atlantic during the Holocene. Quaternary Science Reviews. 265. 107033 (8p.).,

Copy this text