Climate Dynamics

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 162–177 | Cite as

The hierarchical structure of glacial climatic oscillations: interactions between ice-sheet dynamics and climate

  • Didier Paillard
Article

Abstract

Abrupt climatic oscillations around the North Atlantic have been identified recently in Greenland ice cores as well as in North Atlantic marine sediment cores. The good correlation between the ‘Dansgaard-Oeschger events’ in the ice and the ‘Heinrich events’ in the ocean suggests that climate, in the North Atlantic region, underwent several massive reorganizations in the last glacial period. A characteristic feature of these events seems to be their hierarchical structure. Every 7 to 10-thousand years, when the temperature is close to its minimum, the ice-sheet undergoes a massive iceberg discharge. This Heinrich event is then followed by an abrupt warming, then by several other oscillations, each one lasting between one and two thousand years. These secondary oscillations do not have a clear signature in marine sediments but constitute most of the ‘Dansgaard-Oeschger events’ found in the ice. Here we use a simplified model coupling an ice-sheet and an ocean basin, in order to illustrate how the interactions between these two components can lead to such a hierarchical structure. The ice-sheet model exhibits internal oscillations composed of ice-sheet growing phases and basal ice melting phases that induce massive iceberg discharges. These massive fresh water inputs in the ocean stop for a moment the thermohaline circulation, enhancing the temperature contrast between low- and high-latitudes. Just after this event, the thermohaline circulation restarts and an abrupt warming of high-latitude regions is observed. For some parameter values, these warmer temperatures have in turn some influence on the ice-sheet, inducing secondary oscillations similar to those found in paleoclimatic records. Although the mechanism presented here may be too grossly simplified, it nevertheless underlines the potential importance of the coupling between ice-sheet dynamics and oceanic thermohaline circulation on the structure of the climatic records during the last glacial period.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Andrews JT, Erlenkeuser H, Tedesco K, Aksu AE, Jull AJT (1994) Late Quaternary (stage 2 and 3) meltwater and Heinrich events, northwest Labrador Sea. Quat Res 41:26–34Google Scholar
  2. Birchfield E (1989) A coupled ocean-atmosphere climate model: temperature versus salinity effects on the thermohaline circulation. Clim Dyn 4:57–71Google Scholar
  3. Birchfield E, Wang H, Rich J (1994) Century/millenium internal climate oscillations in an ocean-atmosphere-continental ice sheet model. J Geophys Res 99:12459–12470Google Scholar
  4. Birchfield EG, Broecker WS (1990) A salt oscillator in the glacial Atlantic? Part 2: a ‘scale analysis’ model. Paleocoeanography 5:835–843Google Scholar
  5. Bond G, Heinrich H, Broecker W, Labeyrie L, McManus J, Andrews J, Huon S, Jantschik R, Clasen S, Simet C, Tedesco K, Klas M, Bonani G, Ivy S (1992) Evidence of massive dis-charges of icebergs into the North Atlantic ocean during the last glacial period. Nature 360:245–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bond G, Broecker W, Johnsen S, McManus J, Labeyrie L, Jouzel J, Bonani G (1993) Correlations between climate records from North Atlantic sediments and Greenland ice. Nature 365:143–147Google Scholar
  7. Broecker WS, Bond G, Klas M, Bonani G, Wolfli W (1990) A salt oscillator in the glacial Atlantic? 1. The concept. Paleoceanography 5:469–477Google Scholar
  8. Clark PU (1994) Unstable behaviour of the Laurentide ice sheet over deforming sediment and its implication for climate change. Quat Res 41:19–25Google Scholar
  9. Dansgaard W, Johnsen SJ, Clausen HB, Dahl-Jensen D, Gundestrup NS, Hammer CU, Hvidberg CS, Steffensen JP, Sveinbjörnsdottir AE, Jouzel J, Bond G (1993) Evidence for general instability of past climate from a 250-ky ice-core record. Nature 364:218–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Duplessy J-C, Labeyrie L, Juillet-Leclerc A, Maitre F, Duprat J, Sarnthein M (1991) Surface salinity reconstruction of the North Atlantic Ocean during the last glacial maximum. Oceanol Acta 14:311–324Google Scholar
  11. François R, Bacon MP (1994) Heinrich events in the North Atlantic: radiochemical evidence. Deep-Sea Res 41:315–334Google Scholar
  12. Fletcher CAJ (1984) Computational Galerkin methods. Springer, New York Berlin HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
  13. Ghil M, Childress S (1987) Topics in geophysical fluid dynamics: atmospheric dynamics, dynamo theory, and climate dynamics. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New YorkGoogle Scholar
  14. Grootes PM, Stuiver M, White JWC, Johnsen S, Jouzel J (1993) Comparison of oxygen isotope records from the GISP2 and GRIP Greenland ice cores. Nature 366:552–554CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Grousset FE, Labeyrie L, Sinko JA, Cremer M, Bond G, Duprat J, Cortijo E, Huon S (1993) Patterns of ice-rafted detritus in the glacial North Atlantic (40–55°N). Paleoceanography 8:175–192Google Scholar
  16. Guiot J, de Beaulieu JL, Cheddadi R, David F, Ponel P, Reille M (1993) The climate in Western Europe during the last glacial/ interglacial cycle derived from pollen and insect remains. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol 103:73–93Google Scholar
  17. Heinrich H (1988) Origin and consequences of cyclic ice rafting in the northeast Atlantic Ocean during the past 130000 years. Quat Res 29:142–152Google Scholar
  18. Johnsen SJ, Clausen HB, Dansgaard W, Fuhrer K, Gundestrup N, Hammer CU, Iversen P, Jouzel J, Stauffer B, Steffensen JP (1992) Irregular glacial interstadials recorded in a new Greenland ice core. Nature 359:311–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Keigwin LD, Lehman SJ (1994) Deep circulation change linked to Heinrich event 1 and Younger Dryas in a middepth North Atlantic core. Paleoceanography 9:185–194Google Scholar
  20. Labeyrie LD, Duplessy J-C, Duprat J, Juillet-Leclerc A, Moyes J, Michel E, Kallel N, Shackleton NJ (1992) Changes in the vertical structure of the North Atlantic ocean between glacial and modern times. Quat Sci Rev 11:401–413Google Scholar
  21. Lehman SJ, Keigwin LD (1992) Sudden changes in the North Atlantic circulation during the last deglaciation. Nature 356:757–762Google Scholar
  22. MacAyeal DR (1993) A low-order model of the Heinrich event cycle. Paleoceanography 8:767–773Google Scholar
  23. Oerlemans J (1983) A numerical study on cyclic behaviour of polar ice sheets. Tellus 35A:81–87Google Scholar
  24. Oerlemans J (1993) Evaluating the role of climate cooling in iceberg production and the Heinrich events. Nature 364:783–786Google Scholar
  25. Paillard D, Labeyrie L (1994) Abrupt climate warming after Heinrich events: the role of the thermohaline circulation. Nature 372:162–164Google Scholar
  26. Stocker TF, Wright DG (1991) Rapid transitions of the ocean's deep circulation induced by changes in surface water fluxes. Nature 351:729–732Google Scholar
  27. Stocker TF, Wright DG, Broecker WS (1992) The influence of high-latitude surface forcing on the global thermohaline circulation. Paleoceanography 7:529–541Google Scholar
  28. Stommel HM (1961) Thermohaline convection with two stable regimes of flow. Tellus 13:224–230Google Scholar
  29. Stone P, Risbey JS (1990) On the limitations of general circulation climate models. Geophys Res Lett 17:2173–2176Google Scholar
  30. Wang H, Birchfield E, Rich J (1993) Hydrological cycle scenarios, deep ocean circulation and century/millenium climate change: a simulation study using an ocean-atmosphere-ice sheet model. In: Peltier R (ed) Ice in the climate system. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 237–254Google Scholar
  31. Weaver A, Marotzke J, Cummins P, Sarachik E (1993) Stability and variability of the thermohaline circulation. J Phys Oceanogr 23:39–60Google Scholar
  32. Welander P (1986) Thermohaline effects in the ocean circulation and related simple models. In: Willibrand J, Anderson DTL (eds) Large-scale transport processes in the oceans and atmosphere. Reidel D, Dordrecht, pp 163–200Google Scholar
  33. Yiou P, Ghil M, Jouzel J, Paillard D, Vautard R (1994) Nonlinear variability of the climatic system, from singular and power spectra of Quaternary records. Clim Dyn 9:371–389Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Didier Paillard
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Modélisation du Climat et de l'Environnement, CEA-DSM, l'Orme des Merisiers, Bâtiment 709 Centre d'Etudes de SaclayGif sur Yvette CedexFrance

Personalised recommendations