Contrasting late-glacial paleoceanographic evolution between the upper and lower continental slope of the western South Atlantic

Luz, Leticia G.; Santos, Thiago P.; Eglinton, Timothy I.; Montluçon, Daniel; Ausin, Blanca; Haghipour, Negar; Sousa, Silvia M.; Nagai, Renata H.; Carreira, Renato S.

The number of sedimentary records collected along the Brazilian continental margin has increased significantly in recent years, but relatively few are located in shallow waters and register paleoceanographic processes in the outer shelf–middle slope prior to 10–15 ka. For instance, the northward flow up to 23–24inline-formula S of cold and fresh shelf waters sourced from the Subantarctic region is an important feature of current hydrodynamics in the subtropical western South Atlantic Ocean, and yet limited information is available for the long-term changes of this system. Herein, we considered a suite of organic and inorganic proxies – alkenones-derived sea surface temperature (SST), inline-formulaδD-alkenones, inline-formulaδ18O of planktonic foraminifera, and ice-volume free seawater inline-formulaδ18OIVF−SW – in sediment from two cores (RJ-1501 and RJ-1502) collected off the Rio de Janeiro Shelf (SE Brazilian continental shelf) to shed light on SST patterns and relative salinity variations since the end of the last glacial cycle in the region and the implications of these processes over a broader spatial scale. The data indicate that, despite the proximity (inline-formula∼40 km apart) of both cores, apparently contradictory climatic evolution occurred at the two sites, with the shallower (deeper) core RJ-1501 (RJ-1502) showing consistently cold (warm) and fresh (salt) conditions toward the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and last deglaciation. This can be reconciled by considering that the RJ-1501 core registered a signal from mid- to high latitudes on the upper slope off Rio de Janeiro represented by the influence of the cold and fresh waters composed of Subantarctic Shelf Water and La Plata Plume Water transported northward by the Brazilian Coastal Current (BCC). The data from core RJ-1502 and previous information for deep-cores from the same region support this interpretation. In addition, alkenone-derived SST and inline-formulaδ18OIVF−SW suggest a steep thermal and density gradient formed between the BCC and Brazil Current (BC) during the last climate transition which, in turn, may have generated perturbations in the air–sea heat flux with consequences for the regional climate of SE South America. In a scenario of future weakening of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, the reconstructed gradient may become a prominent feature of the region.



Luz, Leticia G. / Santos, Thiago P. / Eglinton, Timothy I. / et al: Contrasting late-glacial paleoceanographic evolution between the upper and lower continental slope of the western South Atlantic. 2020. Copernicus Publications.


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