Sensitivity of the North Atlantic circulation to break-up of the marine sectors of the NW European ice sheets during the last Glacial: A synthesis of modelling and palaeoceanography

G. R. Bigg, C. D. Clark, S. L. Greenwood, H. Haflidason, A. L.C. Hughes, R. C. Levine, A. Nygård, H. P. Sejrup

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The marine-based Atlantic periphery of the last NW European Ice Sheet experienced significant advances and retreats of its marine sector during its existence. It therefore had considerable potential to intermittently inject freshwater or ice pulses to the North Atlantic. These European inputs had poorly known consequences for ocean circulation and climate. Here we examine the history of the western margin of the European Ice Sheet, from 34 to 15. cal. ka BP, and use a combination of modelling and proxy evidence to explore the impact on the North Atlantic of the fresh water and iceberg injections that accompanied phases of retreat of the marine sector of the NW European Ice Sheet. We find that the lack of geographical synchronicity in the responses of the different components of the 3000. km long sector meant that the scale of the climate consequences of ice discharge most likely remained regional, except during the final deglaciation phase, around 17-15. cal. ka BP. At this time, as the later component of the recently introduced concept of an extended Heinrich event H1, both proxy and modelling evidence suggest rapid sector collapse led to partial shut-down of the Atlantic overturning and a basin-wide cooling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-165
Number of pages13
JournalGlobal and Planetary Change
Volume98-99
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012

Keywords

  • European Ice Sheet
  • Iceberg modelling
  • Marine ice break-up
  • Modelling and palaeodata synthesis

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