Abstract

During the past decades, remarkable changes in sea-surface temperature (SST) and sea-ice extent have been observed in the marginal seas of the subarctic Pacific. However, little is known about natural climate variability at millennial time scales far beyond instrumental observations. Geological proxy records, such as those derived from marine sediments, offer a unique opportunity to investigate millennial-scale natural climate variability of the Artic and subarctic environments during past glacial-interglacial cycles. Here we provide reconstructions of sea-ice variability inferred from IP25 (Ice Proxy with 25 carbon atoms) sea-ice biomarker and SST fluctuations based on alkenone unsaturation index (forumla) of the subarctic Pacific realm between 138 and 70 ka. Warmest sea-surface conditions were found during the early Eemian interglacial (128 to 126 ka), exceeding modern SSTs by ∼2 °C. The further North Pacific climate evolution is marked by pronounced oscillations in SST and sea-ice extent on millennial time scales, which correspond remarkably well to short-term temperature oscillations known from Greenland and the North Atlantic. These results imply a common forcing, which seems to be closely coupled to dynamics of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation. However, immediate propagation of such climate fluctuations far beyond the North Atlantic basin suggests a rapid circumpolar coupling mechanism probably acting through the atmosphere, a prerequisite to explain the apparent synchronicity of remote climatic reorganizations in the subarctic Pacific.

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