EARTH SCIENCE | CLIMATE INDICATORS | PALEOCLIMATE INDICATORS | PALEOCLIMATE RECONSTRUCTIONS | SEDIMENTS
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This dataset is a compilation of published records of 230Thorium - normalised lithogenic and biogenic fluxes from the Southern Ocean, south of 30S. All age models and derived fluxes were taken as published. Lithogenic fluxes are based on 232Th concentrations. Opal and carbonate fluxes are also included where available. In some cases fluxes had to be derived from published data. LGM values for each core represent an average of observations between 28 - 18 ka BP and Holocene values represent an average of observations from 10 - 0 ka BP. These data were collated as part of modelling study of the Southern Ocean during the LGM (Saini et al, Southern Ocean ecosystem response to Last Glacial Maximum boundary conditions, Submitted to Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology, 2021)
Declining atmospheric CO2 concentrations are considered the primary driver for the Cenozoic Greenhouse-Icehouse transition, ~34 million years ago. A role for tectonically opening Southern Ocean gateways, initiating the onset of a thermally isolating Antarctic Circumpolar Current, has been disputed as ocean models have not reproduced expected heat transport to the Antarctic coast. Here we use high-resolution ocean simulations with detailed paleobathymetry to demonstrate that tectonics did play a fundamental role in reorganising Southern Ocean circulation patterns and heat transport, consistent with available proxy data. When at least one gateway (Tasmanian or Drake) is shallow (300 m), gyres transport warm waters towards Antarctica. When the second gateway subsides below 300 m, these gyres weaken and cause a dramatic cooling (average of 2–4°C, up to 5°C) of Antarctic surface waters whilst the ACC remains weak. Our results demonstrate that tectonic changes are crucial for Southern Ocean climate change and should be carefully considered in constraining long-term climate sensitivity to CO2.