Testing the 231Pa/230Th paleocirculation proxy: A data versus 2D model comparison

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Abstract

[1] Variations of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) are believed to have crucially influenced Earth's climate due to its key role in the inter-hemispheric redistribution of heat and carbon. To assess its past strength, the sedimentary 231Pa/230Th proxy has been developed and improved but also contested due to its sensitivity to other factors beyond ocean circulation. In order to provide a better basis for the understanding of the Atlantic 231Pa/230Th system, and therefore to shed light on the controversy, we compare new measurements of Holocene sediments from the north Brazilian margin to water column data and the output of a two-dimensional scavenging-circulation model, based on modern circulation patterns and reversible scavenging parameters. We show that sedimentary 231Pa/230Th data from one specific area of the Atlantic are in very good agreement with model results suggesting that sedimentary 231Pa/230Th is predominantly driven by the AMOC. Therefore, 231Pa/230Th represents an appropriate method to reconstruct past AMOC at least qualitatively along the western margin.

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