Back to overview

A stagnation event in the deep South Atlantic during the last interglacial period

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Hayes Christopher , Martinez-Garcia Alfredo, Hasenfratz Adam P., Jaccard Samuel L., Hodell David A., Sigman Daniel M., Haug Gerald H., Anderson Robert F.,
Project SeaO2 - Past changes in Southern Ocean overturning circulation - implications for the partitioning of carbon and oxygen between the ocean and the atmosphere
Show all

Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Science
Volume (Issue) 346
Page(s) 1514 - 1516
Title of proceedings Science
DOI 10.1126/science.1256620


During the last interglacial period, global temperatures were ~2°C warmer than present and sea level was 6-8 m higher. Southern Ocean sediments reveal a spike in authigenic uranium 127,000 years ago, within the last interglacial, reflecting decreased oxygenation of deep water by Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW). Unlike ice age reductions in AABW, the interglacial stagnation event appears decoupled from open ocean conditions and may have resulted from coastal freshening due to mass loss from the Antarctic ice sheet. AABW reduction coincided with increased North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) formation, and the subsequent reinvigoration in AABW coincided with reduced NADW formation. Thus, alternation of deep water formation between the Antarctic and the North Atlantic, believed to characterize ice ages, apparently also occurs in warm climates.