McKay Jennifer L.

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Jennifer L.

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  • Article
    Bioactive trace metals and their isotopes as paleoproductivity proxies: an assessment using GEOTRACES-era data
    (American Geophysical Union, 2021-05-24) Horner, Tristan J. ; Little, Susan ; Conway, Tim M. ; Farmer, Jesse R. ; Hertzberg, Jennifer ; Janssen, David J. ; Lough, Alastair ; McKay, Jennifer L. ; Tessin, Allyson C. ; Galer, Stephen J. G. ; Jaccard, Samuel L. ; Lacan, Francois ; Paytan, Adina ; Wuttig, Kathrin
    Phytoplankton productivity and export sequester climatically significant quantities of atmospheric carbon dioxide as particulate organic carbon through a suite of processes termed the biological pump. Constraining how the biological pump operated in the past is important for understanding past atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and Earth's climate history. However, reconstructing the history of the biological pump requires proxies. Due to their intimate association with biological processes, several bioactive trace metals and their isotopes are potential proxies for past phytoplankton productivity, including iron, zinc, copper, cadmium, molybdenum, barium, nickel, chromium, and silver. Here, we review the oceanic distributions, driving processes, and depositional archives for these nine metals and their isotopes based on GEOTRACES-era datasets. We offer an assessment of the overall maturity of each isotope system to serve as a proxy for diagnosing aspects of past ocean productivity and identify priorities for future research. This assessment reveals that cadmium, barium, nickel, and chromium isotopes offer the most promise as tracers of paleoproductivity, whereas iron, zinc, copper, and molybdenum do not. Too little is known about silver to make a confident determination. Intriguingly, the trace metals that are least sensitive to productivity may be used to track other aspects of ocean chemistry, such as nutrient sources, particle scavenging, organic complexation, and ocean redox state. These complementary sensitivities suggest new opportunities for combining perspectives from multiple proxies that will ultimately enable painting a more complete picture of marine paleoproductivity, biogeochemical cycles, and Earth's climate history.
  • Article
    The role of northeast pacific meltwater events in deglacial climate change
    (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2020-02-26) Praetorius, Summer K. ; Condron, Alan ; Mix, Alan C. ; Walczak, Maureen H. ; McKay, Jennifer L. ; Du, Jianghui
    Columbia River megafloods occurred repeatedly during the last deglaciation, but the impacts of this fresh water on Pacific hydrography are largely unknown. To reconstruct changes in ocean circulation during this period, we used a numerical model to simulate the flow trajectory of Columbia River megafloods and compiled records of sea surface temperature, paleo-salinity, and deep-water radiocarbon from marine sediment cores in the Northeast Pacific. The North Pacific sea surface cooled and freshened during the early deglacial (19.0-16.5 ka) and Younger Dryas (12.9-11.7 ka) intervals, coincident with the appearance of subsurface water masses depleted in radiocarbon relative to the sea surface. We infer that Pacific meltwater fluxes contributed to net Northern Hemisphere cooling prior to North Atlantic Heinrich Events, and again during the Younger Dryas stadial. Abrupt warming in the Northeast Pacific similarly contributed to hemispheric warming during the Bølling and Holocene transitions. These findings underscore the importance of changes in North Pacific freshwater fluxes and circulation in deglacial climate events.