Role of the Bering Strait on the hysteresis of the ocean conveyor belt circulation and glacial climate stability

Aixue Hu*, Gerald A. Meehl, Weiqing Han, Axel Timmermann, Bette Otto-Bliesner, Zhengyu Liu, Warren M. Washington, William Large, Ayako Abe-Ouchi, Masahide Kimoto, Kurt Lambeck, Bingyi Wu

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    80 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Abrupt climate transitions, known as Dansgaard-Oeschger and Heinrich events, occurred frequently during the last glacial period, specifically from 80-11 thousand years before present, but were nearly absent during interglacial periods and the early stages of glacial periods, when major ice-sheets were still forming. Here we show, with a fully coupled state-of-the-art climate model, that closing the Bering Strait and preventing its throughflow between the Pacific and Arctic Oceans during the glacial period can lead to the emergence of stronger hysteresis behavior of the ocean conveyor belt circulation to create conditions that are conducive to triggering abrupt climate transitions. Hence, it is argued that even for greenhouse warming, abrupt climate transitions similar to those in the last glacial time are unlikely to occur as the Bering Strait remains open.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)6417-6422
    Number of pages6
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Volume109
    Issue number17
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2012

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