Publications

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2018
Wagner, TJW, Dell RW, Eisenman I, Keeling RF, Padman L, Severinghaus JP.  2018.  Wave inhibition by sea ice enables trans-Atlantic ice rafting of debris during Heinrich events. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 495:157-163.   10.1016/j.epsl.2018.05.006   AbstractWebsite

The last glacial period was punctuated by episodes of massive iceberg calving from the Laurentide Ice Sheet, called Heinrich events, which are identified by layers of ice-rafted debris (IRD) in ocean sediment cores from the North Atlantic. The thickness of these IRD layers declines more gradually with distance from the iceberg sources than would be expected based on present-day iceberg drift and decay. Here we model icebergs as passive Lagrangian particles driven by ocean currents, winds, and sea surface temperatures. The icebergs are released in a comprehensive climate model simulation of the last glacial maximum (LGM), as well as a simulation of the modern climate. The two simulated climates result in qualitatively similar distributions of iceberg meltwater and hence debris, with the colder temperatures of the LGM having only a relatively small effect on meltwater spread. In both scenarios, meltwater flux falls off rapidly with zonal distance from the source, in contrast with the more uniform spread of IRD in sediment cores. To address this discrepancy, we propose a physical mechanism that could have prolonged the lifetime of icebergs during Heinrich events. The mechanism involves a surface layer of cold and fresh meltwater formed from, and retained around, large densely packed armadas of icebergs. This leads to wintertime sea ice formation even in relatively low latitudes. The sea ice in turn shields the icebergs from wave erosion, which is the main source of iceberg ablation. We find that sea ice could plausibly have formed around the icebergs during four months each winter. Allowing for four months of sea ice in the model results in a simulated IRD distribution which approximately agrees with the distribution of IRD in sediment cores. (C) 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

2005
Keeling, RF, Visbeck M.  2005.  Northern ice discharges and Antarctic warming: could ocean eddies provide the link? Quaternary Science Reviews. 24:1809-1820.   10.1016/j.quascirev.2005.04.005   AbstractWebsite

A mechanism is advanced for explaining the Antarctic warm events from 90 to 30ka BP which involves meltwater-induced changes in the salinity gradient across the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) and consequent changes in the poleward heat transport by ocean eddies. Based on simple linear scale analysis, the mechanism is shown to yield warming in the Antarctic interior of roughly the magnitude seen in Antarctic ice-core records (similar to 2 degrees C) in response to ice discharges into the North Atlantic. Consistent with observations, the mechanism produces gradual Antarctic warming and cooling, as dictated by the time required for salinity anomalies to build up and dissipate across the ACC. The mechanism also allows the onset of warming or cooling to be tied to changes in Atlantic overturning, which is relevant here, not for influencing ocean heat transport directly, but for influencing the routing of meltwater from the North Atlantic into the Southern Ocean. The ideas presented here highlight the possibility that eddy processes in the ocean may play a first-order role in aspects of climate variability on millennial time scales. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.