The cooling of the Nordic seas towards modern temperatures started in the early Pliocene, half a million years before the global oceans cooled
The cooling of the Nordic Seas towards modern temperatures started in the early Pliocene, half a million years before the global oceans cooled. A new study of fossil marine plankton published in Nature Communications today demonstrates this.
In the Pliocene, 5.3 to 2.6 million years ago, the world was generally warmer than today. The cooling of the oceans toward the modern situation started from 4 million years ago, but a new study now shows that the Nordic Seas cooled 500,000 year earlier.
Stijn De Schepper, researcher at Uni Research and the Bjerknes Centre for Climate research, has together with colleagues from the University of Bergen, the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany and the Korea Polar Research Institute, investigated the fossil remains of microscopic marine plankton, especially dinoflagellate cysts, in two sediment cores from the Norwegian Sea and the Iceland Sea.
"We see that the dinoflagellate cyst assemblages underwent fundamental changes around 4.5 million years ago. Together with the simultaneous first occurrence of cool-water Pacific mollusks in Iceland, our results demonstrate that the Nordic Seas cooled significantly", De Schepper says.
Major ocean current changes
This new study and the earlier work on migration of Pacific mollusks into the Nordic Seas suggest that the Bering Strait was open at this time, and that cool water from the Pacific flowed into the Arctic. This cool water flowed southwards along East Greenland and into the Nordic Seas, where we started to see the same temperature and circulation pattern as we have today.
Today, the Nordic Seas surface waters are characterised by an east-west temperature gradient. The southernmost part of Greenland is at the same latitude as Bergen and Oslo in Norway, but the climate in Greenland is much cooler. The warm water near Scandinavia is brought northwards via the Norwegian Atlantic Current, a continuation of the North Atlantic Current, and is today responsible for the mild winter climate along the coast of Norway. Along east Greenland a cold water current known as the East Greenland Current flows southward and transports the major part of all exported Arctic sea ice.
Thermal isolation of Greenland
"Our study shows that a surface water temperature gradient was only established since 4.5 million years ago, when warm waters continued to flow along the Scandinavian coast and cool water entered the Nordic Seas along Greenland's east coast", De Schepper says.
In the early Pliocene the icecap on Greenland was restricted to mountain glaciers. The cool surface water that arrives from 4.5 million years ago in the western Nordic Seas isolates Greenland from the warmer water in the eastern Nordic Seas. This cool water likely leads to cooler temperatures in Greenland and the expansion of the Greenland ice sheet in the late Pliocene.
Reference: De Schepper, S., Schreck, M., Beck, K.M., Matthiessen, J., Fahl, K. & Mangerud. G.
Early Pliocene onset of modern Nordic Seas circulation related to ocean gateway changes.
Nature Communications 6:8659, 10.1038/ncomms9659
Stijn De Schepper | EurekAlert!
A new dead zone in the Indian Ocean could impact future marine nutrient balance
06.12.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für marine Mikrobiologie
NASA's AIM observes early noctilucent ice clouds over Antarctica
05.12.2016 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences
06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering