Holocene interdependences of changes in sea surface temperature, productivity, and fluvial inputs in the Iberian continental shelf (Tagus mud patch)

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Abstract

[1] Sea surface temperature (SST), marine productivity, and fluvial input have been reconstructed for the last 11.5 calendar (cal) ka B.P. using a high-resolution study of C37 alkenones, coccolithophores, iron content, and higher plant n-alkanes and n-alkan-1-ols in sedimentary sequences from the inner shelf off the Tagus River Estuary in the Portuguese Margin. The SST record is marked by a continuous decrease from 19°C, at 10.5 and 7 ka, to 15°C at present. This trend is interrupted by a fall from 18°C during the Roman and Medieval Warm Periods to 16°C in the Little Ice Age. River input was very low in the early Holocene but increased in the last 3 cal ka B.P. in association with an intensification of agriculture and deforestation and possibly the onset of the North Atlantic Oscillation/Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation modes of variability. River influence must have reinforced the marine cooling trend relative to the lower amplitude in similar latitude sites of the eastern Atlantic. The total concentration of alkenones reflects river-induced productivity, being low in the early Holocene but increasing as river input became more important. Rapid cooling, of 1–2°C occurring in 250 years, is observed at 11.1, 10.6, 8.2, 6.9, and 5.4 cal ka B.P. The estimated age of these events matches the ages of equivalent episodes common in the NE Atlantic–Mediterranean region. This synchronicity reveals a common widespread climate feature, which considering the twentieth century analog between colder SSTs and negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), is likely to reflect periods of strong negative NAO.

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