Articles | Volume 10, issue 5
Research article
17 Sep 2014
Research article |  | 17 Sep 2014

The impacts of deglacial meltwater forcing on the South Atlantic Ocean deep circulation since the Last Glacial Maximum

J. M. Marson, I. Wainer, M. M. Mata, and Z. Liu

Abstract. A NCAR-CCSM3 (National Center for Atmospheric Research – Community Climate System Model version 3) state-of-the-art transient paleoclimate simulation with prescribed freshwater inflows is used to investigate the changes and evolution of the South Atlantic water mass structure from the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) to the present day. Model results show that 21 000 yr ago the water column was substantially stratified due to the presence of a saltier-than-today Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW), forming a salinity barrier that prevented dense waters from the Northern Hemisphere from sinking. This salinity barrier started to erode after the termination of the Heinrich event 1, when its associated meltwater was transported southward, freshening the AABW. The removal of the barrier after 14 ka triggered the production of the North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW), which spread into the deeper layers of the South Atlantic at the onset of the Holocene. At this point, the NADW acquired its modern-day structure, establishing a deeper Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC).