North Atlantic ecosystem sensitivity to Holocene shifts in Meridional Overturning Circulation

Melanie Douarin, Mary Elliot, Stephen R. Noble, Steven G. Moreton, David Long, Daniel Sinclair, Lea-Anne Henry, J. Murray Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Rapid changes in North Atlantic climate over the last millennia were driven by coupled sea surface/atmospheric processes and rates of deep water formation. Holocene climate changes, however, remain poorly documented due to a lack of high-resolution paleoclimate records, and their impacts on marine ecosystems remain unknown. We present a 4500year absolute-dated sea surface radiocarbon record from northeast Atlantic cold-water corals. In contrast to the current view that surface ocean changes occurred on millennial-scale cycles, our record shows more abrupt changes in surface circulation. Changes were centered at 3.4, 2.7, 1.7, and 1.2kyrB.P. and associated with atmospheric reorganization. Solar irradiance may have influenced these anomalies but changes in North Atlantic deep water convection are likely to have amplified these signals. Critically, we provide the first evidence that these perturbations in Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation led to the decline of cold-water coral ecosystems from 1.2 to~0.1 kyr B.P.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-298
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number1
Early online date8 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2016


  • Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation
  • Cold-water coral reef growth rate
  • Holocene
  • Marine radiocarbon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
  • Geophysics

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