Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2007. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Paleoceanography 22 (2007): PA1215, doi:10.1029/2005PA001205.
In a piston core from the central Bering Sea, diatom microfossil-bound N isotopes and the concentrations of opal, biogenic barium, calcium carbonate, and organic N are measured over the last glacial/interglacial cycle. Compared to the interglacial sections of the core, the sediments of the last ice age are characterized by 3‰ higher diatom-bound δ 15N, 70 wt % lower opal content and 1200 ppm lower biogenic barium. Taken together and with constraints on sediment accumulation rate, these results suggest a reduced supply of nitrate to the surface due to stronger stratification of the upper water column of the Bering Sea during glacial times, with more complete nitrate consumption resulting from continued iron supply through atmospheric deposition. This finding extends the body of evidence for a pervasive link between cold climates and polar ocean stratification. In addition, we hypothesize that more complete nutrient consumption in the glacial age subarctic Pacific contributed to the previously observed ice age reduction in suboxia and denitrification in the eastern tropical North Pacific by lowering the nutrient content of the intermediate-depth water formed in the subpolar North Pacific. In the deglacial interval of the Bering Sea record, two apparent peaks in export productivity are associated with maxima in diatom-bound and bulk sediment δ 15N. The high δ 15N in these intervals may have resulted from greater surface nutrient consumption during this period. However, the synchroneity of the deglacial peaks in the Bering Sea with similar bulk sediment δ 15N changes in the eastern Pacific margin and the presence of sediment lamination within the Bering Sea during the deposition of the productivity peaks raise the possibility that both regional and local denitrification worked to raise the δ 15N of the nitrate feeding Bering Sea surface waters at these times.
Financial support for this work was provided by
NSF grants OCE-0136449, OCE-9981479, ANT-0453680, by BP and Ford
Motor Company through the Princeton Carbon Migration Initiative, and by
a NDSEG fellowship to B.G.B. Work conducted aboard the USCG Healy
(Healy 0202) was funded by grant OPP-9912122.
Subarctic North Pacific
Polar stratification hypothesis
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