Investigating the influence of ocean temperature on Antarctic Ice Sheet evolution during the early to middle Pleistocene
The Mid-Pleistocene Transition (MPT; ~1.25–0.7 Ma) marks the shift from glacial-interglacial cycles paced by obliquity (~41 kyr cycles) to those paced by eccentricity (~100-kyr cycles). This transition occurred despite little variation in Earth’s orbital parameters, suggesting a role for internal climate feedbacks. The MPT was accompanied by decreasing atmospheric pCO2, increasing deep ocean carbon storage, and changes in deep water formation and distribution, all of which are linked to Antarctic margin atmosphere-ice-ocean interactions. However, Pleistocene records that document such interactions are rarely preserved on the shelf due to repeated Antarctic Ice Sheet (AIS) advance; instead, they are preserved in deep Southern Ocean basins. This project takes advantage of the excellent preservation and recovery of continuous Pleistocene sediment sequences collected from the Scotia Sea during International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 382 to test the following hypotheses: 1) Southern Ocean upper ocean temperatures vary on orbital timescales during the early to middle Pleistocene (2.6–0.7 Ma), and 2) Southern Ocean temperatures co-vary with AIS advance/retreat cycles. Paleotemperatures will be reconstructed using the TetraEther indeX of tetraethers containing 86 carbons (TEX86), a proxy that utilizes marine archaeal biomarkers. The Scotia Sea TEX86-based paleotemperature record will be compared to records of AIS variability, including ice rafted debris. Expedition 382 records will be compared to orbitally paced climatic time series and the benthic oxygen isotope record of global ice volume and bottom water temperature to determine if a correlation exists between upper ocean temperature, AIS retreat/advance, and orbital climate forcing.
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