Low Atlantic native Thornalley


Northern North Atlantic




marine sediments (coretop)

Proxy measurement:

Mg/Ca, d18O

Sampling resolution:


Climate sensitivity:

SST, d18Osw,


21 KYrBP




Greenland ice core records indicate that the last deglaciation (~7-21 ka) was punctuated by numerous abrupt climate reversals involving temperature changes of up to 5°C-10°C within decades. However, the cause behind many of these events is uncertain. A likely candidate may have been the input of deglacial meltwater, from the Laurentide ice sheet (LIS), to the high-latitude North Atlantic, which disrupted ocean circulation and triggered cooling. Yet the direct evidence of meltwater input for many of these events has so far remained undetected. In this study, we use the geochemistry (paired Mg/Ca-d18O) of planktonic foraminifera from a sediment core south of Iceland to reconstruct the input of freshwater to the northern North Atlantic during abrupt deglacial climate change. Our record can be placed on the same timescale as ice cores and therefore provides a direct comparison between the timing of freshwater input and climate variability. Meltwater events coincide with the onset of numerous cold intervals, including the Older Dryas (14.0 ka), two events during the Allerød (at ~13.1 and 13.6 ka), the Younger Dryas (12.9 ka), and the 8.2 ka event, supporting a causal link between these abrupt climate changes and meltwater input. During the Bølling-Allerød warm interval, we find that periods of warming are associated with an increased meltwater flux to the northern North Atlantic, which in turn induces abrupt cooling, a cessation in meltwater input, and eventual climate recovery. This implies that feedback between climate and meltwater input produced a highly variable climate. A comparison to published data sets suggests that this feedback likely included fluctuations in the southern margin of the LIS causing rerouting of LIS meltwater between southern and eastern drainage outlets, as proposed by Clark et al. (2001).

Data entered by name:

Wilson, Colleen

Data entered by email:

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Main reference(s):

Thornalley, D.J.R., I.N. McCave, and H. Elderfield. 2010. Freshwater input and abrupt deglacial climate change in the North Atlantic. Paleoceanography, 25, PA1201, doi:10.1029/2009PA001772.

Data storage link 1:



There was an additional core data set collected at 62°05.43'N, 17°49.18'W, 1938 m water depth.

Current dating method:

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Annual snow acc rate:

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Category: Ocean2k