Benthic foraminiferal oxygen isotopic (δ18O) and carbon isotopic (δ13C) trends, constructed from compilations of data series from multiple ocean sites, provide one of the primary means of reconstructing changes in the ocean interior. These records are also widely used as a general climate indicator for comparison with local and more specific marine and terrestrial climate proxy records. We present new benthic foraminiferal δ18O and δ13C compilations for individual ocean basins that provide a robust estimate of benthic foraminiferal stable isotopic variations to ∼80 Ma and tentatively to ∼110 Ma. First‐order variations in interbasinal isotopic gradients delineate transitions from interior ocean heterogeneity during the Late Cretaceous (>∼65 Ma) to early Paleogene (35–65 Ma) homogeneity and a return to heterogeneity in the late Paleogene–early Neogene (35–0 Ma). We propose that these transitions reflect alterations in a first‐order characteristic of ocean circulation: the ability of winds to make water in the deep ocean circulate. We document the initiation of large interbasinal δ18O gradients in the early Oligocene and link the variations in interbasinal δ18O gradients from the middle Eocene to Oligocene with the increasing influence of wind‐driven mixing due to the gradual tectonic opening of Southern Ocean passages and initiation and strengthening of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. The role of wind‐driven upwelling, possibly associated with a Tethyan Circumequatorial Current, in controlling Late Cretaceous interior ocean heterogeneity should be the subject of further research.
Southeast China cave delta O-18, often interpreted as a pure East Asian summer monsoon proxy, lags maximum northern hemisphere summer insolation by 2.9 +/- 0.3 kyrs at the precession cycle. The Arabian Sea summer monsoon stack lags by 8 +/- 1 kyr, consistent with 13 other Indian and East Asian summer monsoon proxies from marine, lake, and terrestrial archives. This 5 kyr phase difference cannot be attributed to age control inadequacies in the marine chronology; it requires reconciliation in the context of proxy interpretation. Both of these lags are incompatible with a direct response to northern hemisphere summer insolation, implicating additional forcing mechanisms. Analysis of heterodynes in the cave delta O-18 spectrum demonstrates that variance contained in the Arabian Sea summer monsoon proxies also resides in the cave delta O-18 record. This variance is subtracted from the cave delta O-18 record yielding a residual that is highly coherent and in phase with precession minima, reflecting the impact of winter temperature change on cave delta O-18 (meteorological precipitation under cold conditions). Thus, we argue that the timing of light cave delta O-18 peaks cannot be interpreted as reflecting the timing of strong summer monsoons alone. The 2.9 kyr precession band phase lag of cave delta O-18 reflects the combined influence of summer monsoon forcing with a phase lag of 8 kyrs relative to precession minima and winter temperature forcing that is in phase with precession minima. This interpretation is consistent with modern seasonality in the amount and isotopic composition of rainfall in southeast China.
Oceanic Anoxic Event 2 (OAE2), spanning the Cenomanian‐Turonian boundary (CTB), represents one of the largest perturbations in the global carbon cycle in the last 100 Myr. The δ13Ccarb, δ13Corg, and δ18O chemostratigraphy of a black shale–bearing CTB succession in the Vocontian Basin of France is described and correlated at high resolution to the European CTB reference section at Eastbourne, England, and to successions in Germany, the equatorial and midlatitude proto‐North Atlantic, and the U.S. Western Interior Seaway (WIS). Δ13C (offset between δ13Ccarb and δ13Corg) is shown to be a good pCO2 proxy that is consistent with pCO2 records obtained using biomarker δ13C data from Atlantic black shales and leaf stomata data from WIS sections. Boreal chalk δ18O records show sea surface temperature (SST) changes that closely follow the Δ13C pCO2 proxy and confirm TEX86 results from deep ocean sites. Rising pCO2 and SST during the Late Cenomanian is attributed to volcanic degassing; pCO2 and SST maxima occurred at the onset of black shale deposition, followed by falling pCO2 and cooling due to carbon sequestration by marine organic productivity and preservation, and increased silicate weathering. A marked pCO2 minimum (∼25% fall) occurred with a SST minimum (Plenus Cold Event) showing >4°C of cooling in ∼40 kyr. Renewed increases in pCO2, SST, and δ13C during latest Cenomanian black shale deposition suggest that a continuing volcanogenic CO2 flux overrode further drawdown effects. Maximum pCO2 and SST followed the end of OAE2, associated with a falling nutrient supply during the Early Turonian eustatic highstand. Key Points Delta13C variation through OAE2 is a viable pCO2 proxy Drawdown of pCO2 accompanied organic carbon burial during OAE2 A major driver of Late Cretaceous global climate change was pCO2
Several hypotheses have been put forward to explain the onset of intensive glaciations on Greenland, Scandinavia, and North America during the Pliocene epoch between 3.6 and 2.7 million years ago (Ma). A decrease in atmospheric CO2 may have played a role during the onset of glaciations, but other tectonic and oceanic events occurring at the same time may have played a part as well. Here we present detailed atmospheric CO2 estimates from boron isotopes in planktic foraminifer shells spanning 4.6–2.0 Ma. Maximal Pliocene atmospheric CO2 estimates gradually declined from values around 410 μatm to early Pleistocene values of 300 μatm at 2.0 Ma. After the onset of large‐scale ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere, maximal pCO2 estimates were still at 2.5 Ma +90 μatm higher than values characteristic of the early Pleistocene interglacials. By contrast, Pliocene minimal atmospheric CO2 gradually decreased from 310 to 245 μatm at 3.2 Ma, coinciding with the start of transient glaciations on Greenland. Values characteristic of early Pleistocene glacial atmospheric CO2 of 200 μatm were abruptly reached after 2.7 Ma during the late Pliocene transition. This trend is consistent with the suggestion that ocean stratification and iron fertilization increased after 2.7 Ma in the North Pacific and Southern Ocean and may have led to increased glacial CO2 storage in the oceanic abyss after 2.7 Ma onward. Key Points Pliocene and Northern Hemisphere glaciation
The carbon isotope ratio (δ13C) of plant material is commonly used to reconstruct the relative distribution of C3 and C4 plants in ancient ecosystems. However, such estimates depend on the δ13C of atmospheric CO2 (δ13CCO2) at the time, which likely varied throughout Earth history. For this study, we use benthic and planktonic δ13C and δ18O records to reconstruct a long‐term record of Cenozoic δ13CCO2. Confidence intervals for δ13CCO2 values are assigned after careful consideration of equilibrium and non‐equilibrium isotope effects and processes, as well as resolution of the data. We find that benthic foraminifera better constrain δ13CCO2 compared to planktonic foraminiferal records, which are influenced by photosymbiotes, depth of production, seasonal variability, and preservation. Furthermore, sensitivity analyses designed to quantify the effects of temperature uncertainty and diagenesis on benthic foraminifera δ13C and δ18O values indicate that these factors act to offset one another. Our reconstruction suggests that Cenozoic δ13CCO2 averaged −6.1 ± 0.6‰ (1σ), while only 11.2 million of the last 65.5 million years correspond to the pre‐Industrial value of −6.5‰ (with 90% confidence). Here δ13CCO2 also displays significant variations throughout the record, at times departing from the pre‐Industrial value by more than 2‰. Thus, the observed variability in δ13CCO2 should be considered in isotopic reconstructions of ancient terrestrial‐plant ecosystems, especially during the Late and Middle Miocene, times of presumed C4 grassland expansion.
We have compiled the first stratigraphically continuous high‐resolution benthic foraminiferal stable isotope record for the Paleocene from a single site utilizing cores recovered at Pacific ODP Site 1209. The long‐term trend in the benthic isotope record suggests a close coupling of volcanic CO2 input and deep‐sea warming. Over the short‐term the record is characterized by slow excursions with a pronounced periodic beat related to the short (100 kyr) and long (405 kyr) eccentricity cycle. The phase relationship between the benthic isotope record and eccentricity is similar to patterns documented for the Oligocene and Miocene confirming the role of orbital forcing as the pace maker for paleoclimatic variability on Milankovitch time scales. In addition, the record documents an unusual transient warming of 2°C coeval with a 0.6‰ carbon isotope excursion and a decrease in carbonate content at 61.75 Ma. This event, which bears some resemblance to Eocene hyperthermals, marks the onset of a long‐term decline in δ13C. The timing indicates it might be related to the initiation of volcanism along Greenland margin. Key Points High‐resolution benthic foraminiferal stable isotope record for Paleocene Pacific On the short term, orbital forcing is the pace maker for Paleocene paleoclimate On the long term, close coupling of volcanic CO2 input and deep sea warming
For much of the Mesozoic record there has been an inconclusive debate on the possible global significance of isotopic proxies for environmental change and of sequence stratigraphic depositional sequences. We present a carbon and oxygen isotope and elemental record for part of the Early Jurassic based on marine benthic and nektobenthic molluscs and brachiopods from the shallow marine succession of the Cleveland Basin, UK. The invertebrate isotope record is supplemented with carbon isotope data from fossil wood, which samples atmospheric carbon. New data elucidate two major global carbon isotope events, a negative excursion of ∼2‰ at the Sinemurian–Pliensbachian boundary, and a positive excursion of ∼2‰ in the Late Pliensbachian. The Sinemurian–Pliensbachian boundary event is similar to the slightly younger Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event and is characterized by deposition of relatively deepwater organic‐rich shale. The Late Pliensbachian strata by contrast are characterized by shallow marine deposition. Oxygen isotope data imply cooling locally for both events. However, because deeper water conditions characterize the Sinemurian–Pliensbachian boundary in the Cleveland Basin the temperature drop is likely of local significance; in contrast a cool Late Pliensbachian shallow seafloor agrees with previous inference of partial icehouse conditions. Both the large‐scale, long‐term and small‐scale, short‐duration isotopic cycles occurred in concert with relative sea level changes documented previously from sequence stratigraphy. Isotope events and the sea level cycles are concluded to reflect processes of global significance, supporting the idea of an Early Jurassic in which cyclic swings from icehouse to greenhouse and super greenhouse conditions occurred at timescales from 1 to 10 Ma. Key Points New Early Jurassic d13C and d18O records reveal positive and negative excursions Oxygen‐isotopes imply cooling during the Late Pliensbachian Warming and cooling events occurred together with relative sea‐level
The Middle Eocene Climatic Optimum (MECO) is an enigmatic warming event that represents an abrupt reversal in long‐term cooling through the Eocene. In order to further assess the timing and nature of this event, we have assembled stable isotope and calcium carbonate concentration records from multiple Deep Sea Drilling Project and Ocean Drilling Program sites for the time interval between ∼43 and 38 Ma. Revised stratigraphy at several sites and compilation of δ18O records place peak warming during the MECO event at 40.0 Ma (Chron C18n.2n). The identification of the δ18O excursion at sites in different geographic regions indicates that the climatic effects of this event were globally extensive. The total duration of the MECO event is estimated at ∼500 ka, with peak warming lasting <100 ka. Assuming minimal glaciation in the late middle Eocene, ∼4°–6°C total warming of both surface and deep waters is estimated during the MECO at the study sites. The interval of peak warming at ∼40.0 Ma also coincided with a worldwide decline in carbonate accumulation at sites below 3000 m depth, reflecting a temporary shoaling of the calcite compensation depth. The synchroneity of deep‐water acidification and globally extensive warming makes a persuasive argument that the MECO event was linked to a transient increase in atmospheric pCO2. The results of this study confirm previous reports of significant climatic instability during the middle Eocene. Furthermore, the direct link between warming and changes in the carbonate chemistry of the deep ocean provides strong evidence that changes in greenhouse gas concentrations exerted a primary control on short‐term climate variability during this critical period of Eocene climate evolution.
We provide the first continuous, orbital‐resolution sea surface temperature (SST) record from the high‐latitude North Atlantic, a region critical to understanding the origin of the Plio‐Pleistocene ice ages and proximal to regions that became frequently glaciated after ∼2.7 Ma. We analyzed sediments from Ocean Drilling Program Site 982 over the last 4 Ma for their alkenone unsaturation index and compared this surface water signal to a benthic δ18O record obtained from the same section. We find that while ocean surface temperatures were significantly warmer (∼6°C) than modern temperatures during the early Pliocene, they were also as variable as those during the late Pleistocene, a surprising result in light of the subdued variance of oxygen isotopic time series during the interval of 3–5 Ma. We propose two possible explanations for the high orbital‐scale SST variability observed: either that a strong, high‐latitude feedback mechanism not involving large continental ice sheets alternately cooled and warmed a broad region of the northern high latitudes or that by virtue of its location near the northern margin of the North Atlantic Drift, the site was unusually sensitive to obliquity‐driven climate shifts. On supraorbital time scales, a strong, sustained cooling of North Atlantic SSTs (∼4.5°C) occurred from 3.5 to 2.5 Ma and was followed by an interval of more modest cooling (an additional 1.5°C) from 2.5 Ma to the present. Evolutionary orbital‐scale phase relationships between North Atlantic SST and benthic δ18O show that SST began to lead δ18O significantly coincident with the onset of strong cooling at Site 982 (∼3.5 Ma). We speculate that these changes were related to the growth and subsequent persistence of a Greenland ice sheet of approximately modern size through interglacial states.
Paleoclimatic reconstructions have provided a unique data set to test the sensitivity of climate system to changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. However, the mechanisms behind glacial/interglacial (G/IG) variations in atmospheric CO2 concentrations observed in the Antarctic ice cores are still not fully understood. Here we present a new multiproxy data set of sea surface temperatures (SST), dust and iron supply, and marine export productivity, from the marine sediment core PS2489‐2/ODP Site 1090 located in the subantarctic Atlantic, that allow us to evaluate various hypotheses on the role of the Southern Ocean (SO) in modulating atmospheric CO2 concentrations back to 1.1 Ma. We show that Antarctic atmospheric temperatures are closely linked to changes in SO surface temperatures over the last 800 ka and use this to synchronize the timescales of our marine and the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA) Dome C (EDC) records. The close correlation observed between iron inputs and marine export production over the entire interval implies that the process of iron fertilization of marine biota has been a recurrent process operating in the subantarctic region over the G/IG cycles of the last 1.1 Ma. However, our data suggest that marine productivity can only explain a fraction of atmospheric CO2 changes (up to around 40–50 ppmv), occurring at glacial maxima in each glacial stage. In this sense, the good correlation of our SST record to the EDC temperature reconstruction suggests that the initial glacial CO2 decrease, as well as the change in the amplitude of the CO2 cycles observed around 400 ka, was most likely driven by physical processes, possibly related to changes in Antarctic sea ice extent, surface water stratification, and westerly winds position.
Studies from the subtropical western and eastern Atlantic Ocean, using the Pa-231/Th-230 ratio as a kinematic proxy for deep water circulation, provided compelling evidence for a strong link between climate and the rate of meridional overturning circulation (MOC) over the last deglaciation. In this study, we present a compilation of existing and new sedimentary Pa-231/Th-230 records from North Atlantic cores between 1710 and 4550 m water depth. Comparing sedimentary Pa-231/Th-230 from different depths provides new insights into the evolution of the geometry and rate of deep water formation in the North Atlantic during the last 20,000 years. The Pa-231/Th-230 ratio measured in upper Holocene sediments indicates slow water renewal above similar to 2500 m and rapid flushing below, consistent with our understanding of modern circulation. In contrast, during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), Glacial North Atlantic Intermediate Water (GNAIW) drove a rapid overturning circulation to a depth of at least similar to 3000 m depth. Below similar to 4000 m, water renewal was much slower than today. At the onset of Heinrich event 1, transport by the overturning circulation declined at all depths. GNAIW shoaled above 3000 m and significantly weakened but did not totally shut down. During the Bolling-Allerod (BA) that followed, water renewal rates further decreased above 2000 m but increased below. Our results suggest for the first time that ocean circulation during that period was quite distinct from the modern circulation mode, with a comparatively higher renewal rate above 3000 m and a lower renewal rate below in a pattern similar to the LGM but less accentuated. MOC during the Younger Dryas appears very similar to BA down to 2000 m and slightly slower below.
Organic-rich sediments are the salient marine sedimentation product in the mid-Cretaceous of the ocean basins formed in the Mesozoic. Oceanic anoxic events (OAEs) are discrete and particularly organic-rich intervals within these mid-Cretaceous organic-rich sequences and are defined by pronounced carbon isotope excursions. Marine productivity during OAEs appears to have been enhanced by the increased availability of biolimiting nutrients in seawater due to hydrothermal alteration of submarine basalts in the Pacific and proto-Indian oceans. The exact mechanisms behind the deposition of organic-rich sediments in the mid-Cretaceous are still a matter of discussion, but a hypothesis which is often put forward is that their deposition was a consequence of the coupling of a particular paleogeography with changes in ocean circulation and nutrient supply. In this study, we used a global coupled climate model to investigate oceanic processes that affect the interbasinal exchange of nutrients as well as their spatial distribution and bioavailability. We conclude that the mid-Cretaceous North Atlantic was a nutrient trap as a consequence of an estuarine circulation with respect to the Pacific. Organic-rich sediments in the North Atlantic were deposited below regions of intense upwelling. We suggest that enhanced productivity during OAEs was a consequence of upwelling of Pacific-derived nutrient-rich seawater associated with submarine igneous events.
Paleotemperature estimates based on coral Sr/Ca have not been widely accepted because the reconstructed glacial-Holocene shift in tropical sea-surface temperature (similar to 4-6 degrees C) is larger than that indicated by foraminiferal Mg/Ca (similar to 2-4 degrees C). We show that corals over-estimate changes in sea-surface temperature (SST) because their records are attenuated during skeletogenesis within the living tissue layer. To quantify this process, we microprofiled skeletal mass accumulation within the tissue layer of Porites from Australasian coral reefs and laboratory culturing experiments. The results show that the sensitivity of the Sr/Ca and delta O-18 thermometers in Porites will be suppressed, variable, and dependent on the relationship between skeletal growth rate and mass accumulation within the tissue layer. Our findings help explain why delta O-18-SST sensitivities for Porites range from -0.08 parts per thousand/degrees C to -0.22 parts per thousand/degrees C and are always less than the value of -0.23 parts per thousand/degrees C established for biogenic aragonite. Based on this observation, we recalibrated the coral Sr/Ca thermometer to determine a revised sensitivity of -0.084 mmol/mol/degrees C. After rescaling, most of the published Sr/Ca-SST estimates for the Indo-Pacific region for the last similar to 14,000 years (similar to 7 degrees C to +2 degrees C relative to modern) fall within the 95% confidence envelope of the foraminiferal Mg/Ca-SST records. We conclude that two types of calibration scales are required for coral paleothermometry; an attenuated Porites-specific thermometer sensitivity for studies of seasonal to interannual change in SST and, importantly, the rescaled -0.084 mmol/mol/degrees C Sr/Ca sensitivity for studies of 20th-century trends and millennial-scale changes in mean SST. The calibration-scaling concept will apply to the development of transfer functions for all geochemical tracers in corals.
A recent study found enhanced upwelling rates in the Southern Ocean during the last glacial termination that coincided with the deglacial warming in Antarctica and the rise in atmospheric CO2. They hypothesized that the intensification of Southern Hemisphere midlatitude westerlies, the presumed cause of the increased wind‐driven upwelling, was triggered by an initial cooling within the glacial North Atlantic whose influence was then communicated to the southern midlatitudes through an atmospheric teleconnection. In this study, we explore the viability of the above hypothesis using a modeling strategy, focusing on the atmospheric teleconnection. In simulations where North Atlantic cooling was applied, the model Intertropical Convergence Zone shifted southward, and westerlies and wind stress over Southern Ocean increased by as much as 25%. While the perennial westerly anomalies occur over the entire Southern Ocean, they are strongest over the South Pacific during the austral winter. When the wind stress anomalies were applied to an Earth system model incorporating interactive marine biogeochemistry, atmospheric CO2 rises between 20 and 60 ppm, depending on the biological response. We thus confirm the viability of the proposed atmospheric teleconnection hypothesis. The teleconnection appears to involves two distinct steps: first, the North Atlantic cooling shifts the Intertropical Convergence Zone southward, weakening the southern branch of the Hadley circulation, and second, how the altered Hadley circulation in turn modifies the structure of midlatitude westerlies in the South Pacific, via the former's influence on the Southern Hemisphere subtropical jet. This study underscores the control of the Northern Hemisphere has on southern midlatitude westerlies, mediating by tropical circulation, in contrast to past paleoclimate hypotheses that the magnitude and position of the southern midlatitude westerlies was controlled by global mean temperature. Our results do not preclude other potential mechanisms for affecting Southern Ocean ventilation, in particular through oceanic pathways. Key Points North Atlantic cooling teleconnected to strengthen the southern westerlies Tropical circulation mediates this N‐S teleconnection Atmospheric CO2 rises in response to strengthening of the southern westerlies
During the early Toarcian (∼183 Ma ago), a high rate of organic carbon burial globally over a brief interval of time has led to the recognition of a major oceanic anoxic event (OAE). A pronounced negative excursion in the carbon‐isotope composition of marine organic matter, marine carbonate and terrestrial plant material is a key feature of this event but the precise timescale and cause(s) of this isotopic anomaly are debated. Associated with the negative carbon‐isotope excursion is evidence for a coeval rise in seawater palaeotemperature, an increase in continental weathering rates, and the mass extinction of marine invertebrate species. The early Toarcian OAE provides evidence for the Earth's response during rapid climate change, and critical to our understanding of the event is a high‐resolution timescale that allows us to quantify the rates, duration and lead/lag times of environmental processes. In this study, we present 2743 new high‐resolution organic carbon, sulphur and carbonate concentration data from samples of well‐preserved organic‐rich mudrocks spanning the early Toarcian OAE in Yorkshire, UK. We have used these data to document the geochemical changes and significantly extend and refine the astronomical timescale across this event. Our detailed analysis of the relationship between astronomical forcing and carbon isotope changes in both Yorkshire and a section from Peniche, Portugal, indicates that astronomical forcing paced the timing of major shifts in δ13C and hence climate in both sections. Our analyses also demonstrate that there was a marked increase in the relative strength of astronomical forcing recorded at the onset of the OAE, and that the recorded nature of astronomical forcing changed during the event. Both the Yorkshire and Peniche cyclostratigraphies suggest that one astronomical forcing parameter paced environmental change through the δ13C event, and that this parameter was obliquity or precession. Key Points An astronomical chronology through part of the Toarcian OAE has been defined Astronomical forcing exerted a key control on the pacing of OAE climate change The OAE has been correlated between two sections based on the chronology