Late Quaternary variations in sea surface temperatures and their relationship to orbital forcing recorded in the Southern Ocean (Atlantic sector)


  • Uta Brathauer,

  • Andrea Abelmann


Late Quaternary summer sea surface temperatures (SSTs) have been derived from radiolarian assemblages in the East Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean. In the subantarctic and the polar frontal zone, glacial SSTs (oxygen isotope stages 2, 4, 6, and 8) were 3°–5°C cooler than today, indicating northward displacements of the isotherms about 2°–4° of latitudes. During interglacials, SSTs almost reached modern levels (oxygen isotope stages 7 and 9) or exceeded them by 2°–3°C (oxygen isotope stages 1 and 5.5). In the subantarctic Atlantic Ocean, changes in SST and calcium carbonate content of the sediment precede variations in global ice volume in the range of the main Milankovitch frequencies. Comparisons with the timing of North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) proxy records suggests that this early response in the subantarctic Atlantic Ocean is not triggered by the flux of NADW to the Southern Ocean.