Five delta(13)C records from the deep ocean, extending back to 1.3 Ma, were examined in order to constrain changes in mean ocean carbon isotope composition and thermohaline circulation over the 41- to 100-ka climate transition. These data show that significant perturbations in mean ocean carbon chemistry were associated with the mid-Pleistocene climate transition, Notable features of the last 1.3 Myr are (1) a pronounced similar to 0.3 parts per thousand decrease in mean ocean delta(13)C between 0.9 and 1.0 Myr, followed by a return to pre-1.0 Ma values by 400 ka B.P., which we propose was due to the onetime addition of isotopically depleted terrestrial carbon to the ocean, possibly associated with an increase in global aridity (and decrease in the size of the biosphere) across the 41- to 100-ka transition; (2) no change in the Atlantic-Pacific (A-P) delta(13)C gradient over the last 1.3 Myr, suggesting no change in mean ocean nutrient content accompanied the addition of light carbon; and (3) stronger vertical nutrient fractionation in the North Atlantic in the middle Pleistocene between sites 607 and 552, suggesting weaker North Atlantic Deep Water formation at this time relative to the early and late Pleistocene. We also find evidence for a more pronounced deep recirculation gyre in the western North Atlantic basin in the early Brunhes, as evidenced by ''aging'' of deep northern basin water (site 607) relative Co deep water in the equatorial Atlantic (site 664).
The mid-Pleistocene climate transition: A deep sea carbon isotopic perspective
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