Deep North Atlantic Last Glacial Maximum Salinity Reconstruction

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We reconstruct deep water-mass salinities and spatial distributions in the western North Atlantic during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, 19–26 ka), a period when atmospheric CO2 was significantly lower than it is today. A reversal in the LGM Atlantic meridional bottom water salinity gradient has been hypothesized for several LGM water-mass reconstructions. Such a reversal has the potential to influence climate, ocean circulation, and atmospheric CO2 by increasing the thermal energy and carbon storage capacity of the deep ocean. To test this hypothesis, we reconstructed LGM bottom water salinity based on sedimentary porewater chloride profiles in a north-south transect of piston cores collected from the deep western North Atlantic. LGM bottom water salinity in the deep western North Atlantic determined by the density-based method is 3.41–3.99 ± 0.15% higher than modern values at these sites. This increase is consistent with: (a) the 3.6% global average salinity change expected from eustatic sea level rise, (b) a northward expansion of southern sourced deep water, (c) shoaling of northern sourced deep water, and (d) a reversal of the Atlantic's north-south deep water salinity gradient during the LGM.

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Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology