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Pliocene climate and seasonality in North Atlantic shelf seas

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journal contribution
posted on 21.06.2010, 13:54 by Mark Williams, Alan M. Haywood, Elizabeth M. Harper, Andrew L.A. Johnson, Tanya Knowles, Melanie J. Leng, Daniel J. Lunt, Beth Okamura, Paul D. Taylor, Jan Zalasiewicz
This paper reviews North Atlantic shelf seas palaeoclimate during the interval 4-3 Ma, prior to and incorporating the ‘mid Pliocene warm period’ (ca 3.29-2.97 Ma). Fossil assemblages and stable isotope data demonstrate northwards extension of subtropical faunas along the coast of the Carolinas-Virginia (Yorktown and Duplin formations) relative to the present day, suggesting a more vigorous Florida Current, with reduced seasonality and warm water extending north of Cape Hatteras(reconstructed annual range for Virginia 12-30°C). This interpretation supports conceptual models of increased meridional heat transport for the Pliocene. Sea temperatures for Florida (Lower Pinecrest Beds) were similar to or slightly cooler (summers 25-27°C) than today, and were probably influenced by seasonal upwelling of cold deep water. Reduced seasonality is also apparent in the Coralline Crag Formation of the southern North Sea, with ostracods suggesting winter sea temperatures of 10°C (modern 4°C). However, estimates from Pliocene bivalves (3.6- 16.6°C) are similar to or cooler than the present day. This ‘mixed’ signal is problematic given warmer seas in the Carolinas-Virginia, and climate model and oceanographic data that show warmer seas in the ‘mid Pliocene’ eastern North Atlantic. This may be because the Coralline Crag Formation was deposited prior to peak ‘mid Pliocene’ warmth.

History

Citation

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 2009, 367 (1886), pp. 85-108

Published in

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical

Publisher

The Royal Society

issn

1364-503X

Copyright date

2009

Available date

21/06/2010

Publisher version

http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/367/1886/85

Language

en

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