Increased productivity in the subantarctic ocean during Heinrich events

TitleIncreased productivity in the subantarctic ocean during Heinrich events
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsSachs, JP, Anderson, RF
Date PublishedApr 28
ISSN0028-0836 (Linking)
Accession Number15858571

Massive iceberg discharges from the Northern Hemisphere ice sheets, 'Heinrich events', coincided with the coldest periods of the last ice age. There is widespread evidence for Heinrich events and their profound impact on the climate and circulation of the North Atlantic Ocean, but their influence beyond that region remains uncertain. Here we use a combination of molecular fingerprints of algal productivity and radioisotope tracers of sedimentation to document eight periods of increased productivity in the subpolar Southern Ocean during the past 70,000 years that occurred within 1,000-2,000 years of a Northern Hemisphere Heinrich event. We discuss possible causes for such a link, including increased supply of iron from upwelling and increased stratification during the growing season, which imply an alteration of the global ocean circulation during Heinrich events. The mechanisms linking North Atlantic iceberg discharges with subantarctic productivity remain unclear at this point. We suggest that understanding how the Southern Ocean was altered during these extreme climate perturbations is critical to understanding the role of the ocean in climate change.