Eastern tropical Pacific hydrologic changes during the past 27,000 years from D/H ratios in alkenones
Sachs, Julian P.
Keigwin, Lloyd D.
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KeywordPast hydrologic changes; Eastern tropical Pacific; Compound-specific hydrogen isotope ratios
The tropical Pacific plays a central role in the climate system by providing large diabatic heating that drives the global atmospheric circulation. Quantifying the role of the tropics in late Pleistocene climate change has been hampered by the paucity of paleoclimate records from this region and the lack of realistic transient climate model simulations covering this period. Here we present records of hydrogen isotope ratios (δD) of alkenones from the Panama Basin off the Colombian coast that document hydrologic changes in equatorial South America and the eastern tropical Pacific over the past 27,000 years (a) and the past 3 centuries in detail. Comparison of alkenone δD values with instrumental records of precipitation over the past ∼100 a suggests that δD can be used as a hydrologic proxy. On long timescales our records indicate reduced rainfall during the last glacial period that can be explained by a southward shift of the mean position of the Intertropical Convergence Zone and an associated reduction of Pacific moisture transport into Colombia. Precipitation increases at ∼17 ka in concert with sea surface temperature (SST) cooling in the North Atlantic and the eastern tropical Pacific. A regional coupled model, forced by negative SST anomalies in the Caribbean, simulates an intensification of northeasterly trade winds across Central America, increased evaporative cooling, and a band of increased rainfall in the northeastern tropical Pacific. These results are consistent with the alkenone SST and δD reconstructions that suggest increasing precipitation and SST cooling at the time of Heinrich event 1.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2007. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Paleoceanography 22 (2007): PA4214, doi:10.1029/2007PA001468.
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