Articles | Volume 5, issue 4
03 Dec 2009
 | 03 Dec 2009

Pliocene three-dimensional global ocean temperature reconstruction

H. J. Dowsett, M. M. Robinson, and K. M. Foley

Abstract. The thermal structure of the mid-Piacenzian ocean is obtained by combining the Pliocene Research, Interpretation and Synoptic Mapping Project (PRISM3) multiproxy sea-surface temperature (SST) reconstruction with bottom water temperature estimates from 27 locations produced using Mg/Ca paleothermometry based upon the ostracod genus Krithe. Deep water temperature estimates are skewed toward the Atlantic Basin (63% of the locations) and represent depths from 1000 m to 4500 m. This reconstruction, meant to serve as a validation data set as well as an initialization for coupled numerical climate models, assumes a Pliocene water mass framework similar to that which exists today, with several important modifications. The area of formation of present day North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) was expanded and extended further north toward the Arctic Ocean during the mid-Piacenzian relative to today. This, combined with a deeper Greenland-Scotland Ridge, allowed a greater volume of warmer NADW to enter the Atlantic Ocean. In the Southern Ocean, the Polar Front Zone was expanded relative to present day, but shifted closer to the Antarctic continent. This, combined with at least seasonal reduction in sea ice extent, resulted in decreased Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) production (relative to present day) as well as possible changes in the depth of intermediate waters. The reconstructed mid-Piacenzian three-dimensional ocean was warmer overall than today, and the hypothesized aerial extent of water masses appears to fit the limited stable isotopic data available for this time period.