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Journal Article

Deglacial increase of temperature variability in the tropical ocean


Haug,  Gerald
Climate Geochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Wörmer, L., Wendt, J., Boehman, B., Haug, G., & Hinrichs, K.-U. (2022). Deglacial increase of temperature variability in the tropical ocean. Nature, 612, 88-91. doi:10.1038/s41586-022-05350-4.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000D-3CFF-2
The relatively stable Holocene climate was preceded by a pronounced event of abrupt warming in the Northern Hemisphere, the termination of the Younger Dryas (YD) cold period1,2. Although this transition has been intensively studied, its imprint on low-latitude ocean temperature is still controversial and its effects on sub-annual to decadal climate variability remain poorly understood1,3,4. Sea surface temperature (SST) variability at these timescales in the tropical Atlantic is expected to intensify under current and future global warming and has considerable consequences for environmental conditions in Africa and South America, and for tropical Pacific climate5,6,7,8. Here we present a 100-µm-resolution record obtained by mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) of long-chain alkenones in sediments from the Cariaco Basin9,10,11 and find that annually averaged SST remained stable during the transition into the Holocene. However, seasonality increased more than twofold and approached modern values of 1.6 °C, probably driven by the position and/or annual range of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). We further observe that interannual variability intensified during the early Holocene. Our results demonstrate that sub-decadal-scale SST variability in the tropical Atlantic is sensitive to abrupt changes in climate background, such as those witnessed during the most recent glacial to interglacial transition.