Journal cover Journal topic
Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/cp-2016-131
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
21 Dec 2016
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).
Highly variable Pliocene sea surface conditions in the Norwegian Sea
Paul E. Bachem1, Bjørg Risebrobakken1, Stijn De Schepper1, and Erin L. McClymont2 1Uni Research Climate, Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Nygårdsgaten 112, 5008 Bergen, Norway
2Department of Geography, Durham University, Durham, DH1 3LE, UK
Abstract. The Pliocene was a time of global warmth, during which the Northern Hemisphere transitioned from small, sporadic glaciation towards the larger-scale Pleistocene glacial-interglacial variability. Here, we present high-resolution records of sea surface temperature (SST) and ice rafted debris (IRD) in the Norwegian Sea from 5.32 to 3.14 Ma, providing evidence that the Pliocene surface conditions of the Norwegian Sea underwent a series of transitions in response to orbital forcing and gateway changes. Average SSTs are 2 °C above the regional Holocene mean, with notable variability on millennial to orbital timescales. Both gradual changes and threshold effects are proposed for the progression of regional climate towards the expansion of large-scale Northern Hemisphere glaciation. Cooling from 4.5 to 4.3 Ma may be linked to the onset of poleward flow through the Bering Strait. This cooling was further intensified by a period of cool summers due to weak obliquity forcing. Warming of up to 7 °C the Norwegian Sea at 4.0 Ma suggests a major increase in northward heat transport from the North Atlantic at this time, leading to an enhanced zonal SST gradient in the Nordic Seas, and may be linked to the expansion of sea ice in the Arctic and Nordic Seas. A warm Norwegian Sea and enhanced zonal temperature gradient between 4.0 and 3.6 Ma may have been a priming factor for increased glaciation around the Nordic Seas due to enhanced evaporation and precipitation at high northern latitudes.

Citation: Bachem, P. E., Risebrobakken, B., De Schepper, S., and McClymont, E. L.: Highly variable Pliocene sea surface conditions in the Norwegian Sea, Clim. Past Discuss., doi:10.5194/cp-2016-131, in review, 2016.
Paul E. Bachem et al.
Paul E. Bachem et al.

Data sets

Ice rafted debris, tetra-unsaturated alkenone and reconstructed sea surface temperature in sediment of ODP Hole 104-642B
P. E. Bachem, B. Risebrobakken, S. De Schepper, and E. L. McClymont
doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.865217
Paul E. Bachem et al.

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Short summary
We present a high-resolution multi-proxy study of the Norwegian Sea, covering the 5.33 to 3.14 Ma time window within the Pliocene. We show that large-scale climate transitions took place during this warmer than modern time, most likely in response to ocean gateway transformations. Strong warming at 4.0 Ma in the Norwegian Sea, when regions closer to Greenland cooled, indicate that increased northward ocean heat transport may be compatible with expanding glaciation and Arctic sea ice growth.
We present a high-resolution multi-proxy study of the Norwegian Sea, covering the 5.33 to...
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