New reserach by Columbia University
For years, researchers have examined climate records indicating that millennial-scale climate cycles have linked the high latitudes of the Northern hemisphere and the subtropics of the North Pacific Ocean. What forces this linkage, however, has been a topic of considerable debate. Did the connection originate in the North Pacific with the sinking of oxygen-rich waters into the interior of the ocean during cool climate intervals, or did it originate in the subtropical Pacific with the transfer of heat between the ocean and the atmosphere?
New research, led by scientists from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and publishing in the June issue of the journal Geology, shows that over the last 52 thousand years, these millennial-scale climate shifts linking the high latitudes of the Northern hemisphere with the subtropical Pacific have been associated with large variations in marine productivity off the coast of western North America. Changes in marine fertility in this area probably arose from local changes in subsurface nutrients concentrations that were driven remotely by wind patterns at low latitude. These millennial-scale climate cycles may have been driven by forces similar to El Niño-Southern Oscilations originating in the tropical Pacific on shorter time scales.
Mary Tobin | EurekAlert!
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