Hubert-Huard, Raphaël; Andersen, Nils; Arz, Helge W.; Ehrmann, Werner; Schmiedl, Gerhard

The oceanography of the Red Sea is controlled by the restricted exchange of water masses with the Indian Ocean and by high evaporation rates due to the arid climate of the surrounding land areas. In the northern Red Sea, the formation of oxygen-rich subsurface water ventilates the deeper parts of the basin, but little is known about the variability in this process in the past. The stable oxygen and carbon isotope records of epibenthic foraminifera from a sediment core of the central Red Sea and comparison with existing isotope records allow for the reconstruction of changes in the Red Sea overturning circulation (ROC) during Marine Isotope Stage 3. The isotope records imply millennial-scale variations in the ROC, in phase with the climate variability in the high northern latitudes. This suggests an immediate response of dense-water formation to the regional climate and hydrology of the northern Red Sea. Deep-water formation was intensified under the influence of cold and hyper-arid conditions during Heinrich stadials and was diminished during Dansgaard–Oeschger interstadials. While these changes are reflected in both stable oxygen and carbon isotope records, the latter data also exhibit changes in phase with the African–Indian monsoon system. The decoupling of the stable carbon and oxygen isotope records at the summer monsoon maximum centered around 55–60 ka may be associated with an increased inflow of nutrient-rich intermediate waters from the Arabian Sea to the central Red Sea. This process fueled local surface water productivity, resulting in enhanced remineralization of sinking organic matter and release of inline-formula12C at intermediate water depths.

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Hubert-Huard, Raphaël / Andersen, Nils / Arz, Helge W. / et al: Changes in the Red Sea overturning circulation during Marine Isotope Stage 3. 2024. Copernicus Publications.

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