Precessional forcing of productivity in the North Atlantic Ocean


  • Joan Villanueva,

  • Joan O. Grimalt,

  • Laurent D. Labeyrie,

  • Elsa Cortijo,

  • Laurence Vidal,

  • Jean Louis-Turon


The sedimentary C37 alkenone fluxes in core SU90/08 situated in the North Atlantic (43°N) showed that export productivity related to some Haptophyta was driven by precession (1/23 kyr−1) in the last 260 kyr during the glacial periods. In the interglacial stages these alkenones were strongly depleted. This different behaviour is attributed to the displacement of Ekman pumping to lower latitudes and to thermocline stability decreases in the glacial periods. The alkenones were coherent and nearly phased with boreal winter insolation, suggesting a link between productivity and the strength of the westerlies. They were also coherent with the precessionally driven nutriocline minima and winter sea surface temperature in the equatorial Atlantic Ocean. The combination of the measurements at these different latitudes point to a strong coupling in the dynamics of the Hadley and Ferrel cells and to a dominant North Atlantic modulation of marine productivity to precession during the glacial stages.