Deglacial changes in flow and frontal structure through the Drake Passage
The oceanic gateways of the Drake Passage and the Agulhas Current are critical locations for the inflow of intermediate-depth water masses to the Atlantic, which contribute to the shallow return flow that balances the export of deep water from the North Atlantic. The thermohaline properties of northward flowing intermediate water are ultimately determined by the inflow of water through oceanic gateways. Here, we focus on the less well-studied “Cold Water Route” through the Drake Passage. We present millennially-resolved bottom current flow speed and sea surface temperature records downstream of the Drake Passage spanning the last 25,000 yr. We find that prior to 15 ka, bottom current flow speeds at sites in the Drake Passage region were dissimilar and there was a marked anti-phasing between sea surface temperatures at sites upstream and downstream of the Drake Passage. After 14 ka, we observe a remarkable convergence of flow speeds coupled with a sea surface temperature phase change at sites upstream and downstream of Drake Passage. We interpret this convergence as evidence for a significant southward shift of the sub-Antarctic Front from a position north of Drake Passage. This southward shift increased the through-flow of water from the Pacific, likely reducing the density of Atlantic Intermediate Water. The timing of the southward shift in the sub-Antarctic Front is synchronous with a major re-invigoration of Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, with which, we argue, it may be linked.
Authors: Roberts, J., McCave, I.N., McClymont, E.L., Kender, S., Hillenbrand, C.D., Matano, R., Hodell, D., Peck, V.L.