Abstract

Salty and warm Indian Ocean waters enter the South Atlantic via the Agulhas leakage, south of Africa. Model simulations and proxy evidence of Agulhas leakage strengthening during glacial terminations led to the hypothesis that it was an important modulator of the Atlantic Ocean circulation. Yet, the fate of the leakage salinity and temperature anomalies remains undocumented beyond the southern tip of Africa. Downstream of the leakage, new paleoceanographic evidence from the central Walvis Ridge (southeast Atlantic) shows that salinity increased at the thermocline, and less so at the surface, during glacial termination II. Thermocline salinity change coincided with higher frequency of Agulhas rings passage at the core location and with salinity maxima in the Agulhas leakage area, suggesting that leakage waters were incorporated in the Atlantic circulation through the thermocline. Hydrographic changes at the Walvis Ridge and in the leakage area display a distinct two-step structure, with a reversal at ca. 134 ka. This matched a wet interlude within the East Asia weak monsoon interval of termination II, and a short-lived North Atlantic warming. Such concurrence points to a Bølling-Allerød–like recovery of the Atlantic circulation amidst termination II, with a northward shift of the Intertropical Convergence Zone and Southern Hemisphere westerlies, and attendant curtailment of the interocean connection south of Africa.

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