Articles | Volume 10, issue 6
Research article
16 Dec 2014
Research article |  | 16 Dec 2014

Laminated sediments in the Bering Sea reveal atmospheric teleconnections to Greenland climate on millennial to decadal timescales during the last deglaciation

H. Kuehn, L. Lembke-Jene, R. Gersonde, O. Esper, F. Lamy, H. Arz, G. Kuhn, and R. Tiedemann

Abstract. During the last glacial termination, the upper North Pacific Ocean underwent dramatic and rapid changes in oxygenation that lead to the transient intensification of oxygen minimum zones (OMZs), recorded by the widespread occurrence of laminated sediments on circum-Pacific continental margins. We present a new laminated sediment record from the mid-depth (1100 m) northern Bering Sea margin that provides insight into these deglacial OMZ maxima with exceptional, decadal-scale detail. Combined ultrahigh-resolution micro-X-ray-fluorescence (micro-XRF) data and sediment facies analysis of laminae reveal an alternation between predominantly terrigenous and diatom-dominated opal sedimentation. The diatomaceous laminae are interpreted to represent spring/summer productivity events related to the retreating sea ice margin. We identified five laminated sections in the deglacial part of our site. Lamina counts were carried out on these sections and correlated with the Bølling–Allerød and Preboreal phases in the North Greenland Ice Core (NGRIP) oxygen isotope record, indicating an annual deposition of individual lamina couplets (varves). The observed rapid decadal intensifications of anoxia, in particular within the Bølling–Allerød, are tightly coupled to short-term warm events through increases in regional export production. This dependence of laminae formation on warmer temperatures is underlined by a correlation with published Bering Sea sea surface temperature records and δ18O data of planktic foraminifera from the Gulf of Alaska. The rapidity of the observed changes strongly implies a close atmospheric teleconnection between North Pacific and North Atlantic regions. We suggest that concomitant increases in export production and subsequent remineralization of organic matter in the Bering Sea, in combination with oxygen-poor waters entering the Being Sea, drove down oxygen concentrations to values below 0.1 mL L−1 and caused laminae preservation. Calculated benthic–planktic ventilation ages show no significant variations throughout the last deglaciation, indicating that changes in formation rates or differing sources of North Pacific mid-depth waters are not prime candidates for strengthening the OMZ at our site. The age models established by our correlation procedure allow for the determination of calendar age control points for the Bølling–Allerød and the Preboreal that are independent of the initial radiocarbon-based chronology. Resulting surface reservoir ages range within 730–990 yr during the Bølling–Allerød, 800–1100 yr in the Younger Dryas, and 765–775 yr for the Preboreal.

Short summary
Annually laminated sediments from the NE Bering Sea reveal a decadal-scale correlation to Greenland ice core records during termination I, suggesting an atmospheric teleconnection. Lamination occurrence is tightly coupled to Bølling-Allerød and Preboreal warm phases. Increases in export production, closely coupled to SST and sea ice changes, are hypothesized to be a main cause of deglacial anoxia, rather than changes in overturning/ventilation rates of mid-depth waters entering the Bering Sea.