Interglacial instability of North Atlantic Deep Water ventilation
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionScience. 2020, 367 (6485), 1485-1489. 10.1126/science.aay6381
Disrupting North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) ventilation is a key concern in climate projections. We use (sub)centennially resolved bottom water δ13C records that span the interglacials of the last 0.5 million years to assess the frequency of and the climatic backgrounds capable of triggering large NADW reductions. Episodes of reduced NADW in the deep Atlantic, similar in magnitude to glacial events, have been relatively common and occasionally long-lasting features of interglacials. NADW reductions were triggered across the range of recent interglacial climate backgrounds, which demonstrates that catastrophic freshwater outburst floods were not a prerequisite for large perturbations. Our results argue that large NADW disruptions are more easily achieved than previously appreciated and that they occurred in past climate conditions similar to those we may soon face.