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

    10 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

    • General Earth and Planetary Sciences
    • Geophysics


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