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Coralline algal Barium as indicator for 20th century northwestern North Atlantic surface ocean freshwater variability

Journal article
Authors S. Hetzinger
J. Halfar
Thomas Zack
J. V. Mecking
B. E. Kunz
D. E. Jacob
W. H. Adey
Published in Scientific Reports
Volume 3
Pages Article Number: 1761
ISSN 2045-2322
Publication year 2013
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages Article Number: 1761
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep01761
Subject categories Earth and Related Environmental Sciences

Abstract

During the past decades climate and freshwater dynamics in the northwestern North Atlantic have undergone major changes. Large-scale freshening episodes, related to polar freshwater pulses, have had a strong influence on ocean variability in this climatically important region. However, little is known about variability before 1950, mainly due to the lack of long-term high-resolution marine proxy archives. Here we present the first multidecadal-length records of annually resolved Ba/Ca variations from Northwest Atlantic coralline algae. We observe positive relationships between algal Ba/Ca ratios from two Newfoundland sites and salinity observations back to 1950. Both records capture episodical multi-year freshening events during the 20th century. Variability in algal Ba/Ca is sensitive to freshwater-induced changes in upper ocean stratification, which affect the transport of cold, Ba-enriched deep waters onto the shelf (highly stratified equals less Ba/Ca). Algal Ba/Ca ratios therefore may serve as a new resource for reconstructing past surface ocean freshwater changes.

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