Changes in Antarctic Bottom Water Formation During Interglacial Periods

Document Type


Publication Date



Marine Science


Ocean Science and Engineering


In the modern Southern Ocean and during the last interglacial period, Marine Isotope Stage 5e, there are observations that point to reduced Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) formation. These reductions are believed to be driven by an increase in the strength of the Southern Ocean density stratification due to Antarctic ice melt-induced surface water freshening. Any reduction in AABW formation has important implications for global climate as AABW plays a vital role in the cycling of carbon in the world's ocean. The primary question this study seeks to answer is do these AABW reductions occur during any of the other interglacials of the past 470,000 years? To study AABW changes in the paleoceanographic record, we look at changes in the redox record. Newly formed AABW is oxygen-rich, so any reduction should lead to a decrease in oxygen concentrations in the deep Southern Ocean. The trace element uranium is useful for studying these redox changes as it is enriched in marine sediments under low-oxygen conditions. When accounting for other factors, such as paleoproductivity, that can also decrease the oxygen concentrations in sedimentary porewater, it is possible to identify changes in AABW using authigenic uranium. The survey conducted by this study found a possible AABW reduction during late Marine Isotope Stage 11 (~397 ka). The cause of this event is less clear than others studied, and we explore the possibilities of ice melt-induced freshening or a change in the position or strength of the Southern Hemisphere westerly winds.


Glasscock, 2020, Changes in Antarctic Bottom Water Formation During Interglacial Periods, 'Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology', 35, Citation number, 10.1029/2020pa003867. To view the published open abstract, go to

Publication Title

Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology





This document is currently not available here.

Find in your library