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      Pliocene oceanic seaways and global climate


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          Tectonically induced changes in oceanic seaways had profound effects on global and regional climate during the Late Neogene. The constriction of the Central American Seaway reached a critical threshold during the early Pliocene ~4.8–4 million years (Ma) ago. Model simulations indicate the strengthening of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) with a signature warming response in the Northern Hemisphere and cooling in the Southern Hemisphere. Subsequently, between ~4–3 Ma, the constriction of the Indonesian Seaway impacted regional climate and might have accelerated the Northern Hemisphere Glaciation. We here present Pliocene Atlantic interhemispheric sea surface temperature and salinity gradients (deduced from foraminiferal Mg/Ca and stable oxygen isotopes, δ 18O) in combination with a recently published benthic stable carbon isotope (δ 13C) record from the southernmost extent of North Atlantic Deep Water to reconstruct gateway-related changes in the AMOC mode. After an early reduction of the AMOC at ~5.3 Ma, we show in agreement with model simulations of the impacts of Central American Seaway closure a strengthened AMOC with a global climate signature. During ~3.8–3 Ma, we suggest a weakening of the AMOC in line with the global cooling trend, with possible contributions from the constriction of the Indonesian Seaway.

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          Most cited references46

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          Chronology, causes and progression of the Messinian salinity crisis

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            Regional climate shifts caused by gradual global cooling in the Pliocene epoch.

            The Earth's climate has undergone a global transition over the past four million years, from warm conditions with global surface temperatures about 3 degrees C warmer than today, smaller ice sheets and higher sea levels to the current cooler conditions. Tectonic changes and their influence on ocean heat transport have been suggested as forcing factors for that transition, including the onset of significant Northern Hemisphere glaciation approximately 2.75 million years ago, but the ultimate causes for the climatic changes are still under debate. Here we compare climate records from high latitudes, subtropical regions and the tropics, indicating that the onset of large glacial/interglacial cycles did not coincide with a specific climate reorganization event at lower latitudes. The regional differences in the timing of cooling imply that global cooling was a gradual process, rather than the response to a single threshold or episodic event as previously suggested. We also find that high-latitude climate sensitivity to variations in solar heating increased gradually, culminating after cool tropical and subtropical upwelling conditions were established two million years ago. Our results suggest that mean low-latitude climate conditions can significantly influence global climate feedbacks.
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              Middle Miocene closure of the Central American Seaway.

              Uranium-lead geochronology in detrital zircons and provenance analyses in eight boreholes and two surface stratigraphic sections in the northern Andes provide insight into the time of closure of the Central American Seaway. The timing of this closure has been correlated with Plio-Pleistocene global oceanographic, atmospheric, and biotic events. We found that a uniquely Panamanian Eocene detrital zircon fingerprint is pronounced in middle Miocene fluvial and shallow marine strata cropping out in the northern Andes but is absent in underlying lower Miocene and Oligocene strata. We contend that this fingerprint demonstrates a fluvial connection, and therefore the absence of an intervening seaway, between the Panama arc and South America in middle Miocene times; the Central American Seaway had vanished by that time.

                Author and article information

                Sci Rep
                Sci Rep
                Scientific Reports
                Nature Publishing Group
                05 January 2017
                : 7
                : 39842
                [1 ]Goethe-University Frankfurt , Altenhoeferallee 1, 60438, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
                [2 ]Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BIK-F) , Senckenberganlage 25, 60325 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
                [3 ]GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel , Wischhofstrasse 1-3, 24148 Kiel, Germany
                [4 ]Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory , Palisades, NY 10964, USA
                [5 ]Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg , Im Neuenheimer Feld 234, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
                [6 ]Center for Marine Environmental Sciences (MARUM), University of Bremen , Klagenfurter Strasse, 28359 Bremen, Germany
                [7 ]Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research , Am Alten Hafen 26, 27568 Bremerhaven, Germany
                Author notes
                Copyright © 2017, The Author(s)

                This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

                : 10 June 2016
                : 28 November 2016



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