Planktonic foraminifera, sea surface temperatures, and mechanisms of oceanic change in the Peru and south equatorial currents, 0–150 ka BP Public Deposited

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Copyright 2003 by the American Geophysical Union

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  • Planktonic foraminiferal faunas of the southeast Pacific indicate that sea surface temperatures (SST) have varied by as much as 8–10°C in the Peru Current, and by ~5–7°C along the equator, over the past 150,000 years. Changes in SST at times such as the Last Glacial Maximum reflect incursion of high-latitude species Globorotalia inflata and Neogloboquadrina pachyderma into the eastern boundary current and as far north as the equator. A simple heat budget model of the equatorial Pacific shows that observed changes in Peru Current advection can account for about half of the total variability in equatorial SSTs. The remaining changes in equatorial SST, which are likely related to local changes in upwelling or pycnocline depth, precede changes in polar climates as recorded by δ¹⁸O. This partitioning of processes in eastern equatorial Pacific SST reveals that net ice-age cooling here reflects first a rapid response of equatorial upwelling to insolation, followed by a later response to changes in the eastern boundary current associated with high-latitude climate (which closely resembles variations in atmospheric CO₂ as recorded in the Vostok ice core). Although precise mechanisms responsible for the equatorial upwelling component of climate change remain uncertain, one likely candidate that may operate independently of the ice sheets is insolation-driven changes in El Nin˜o/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) frequency. Early responses of equatorial SST detected both here and elsewhere highlight the sensitivity of tropical systems to small changes in seasonal insolation. The scale of tropical changes we have observed are substantially greater than model predictions, suggesting a need for further quantitative assessment of processes associated with long-term climate change.
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  • Feldberg, M. J., and A. C. Mix, Planktonic foraminifera, sea surface temperatures, and mechanisms of oceanic change in the Peru and south equatorial currents, 0–150 ka BP, Paleoceanography, 18(1), 1016, doi:10.1029/2001PA000740, 2003
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