A 50,000-Year History of Current Flow Yields New Climate Clues

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From 50,000 to 15,000 years ago, during the last ice age, Earth’s climate wobbled between cooler and warmer periods punctuated by occasional, dramatic ice-melting events.

Previous research has suggested that these oscillations were likely influenced by changes in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), a pattern of currents that carry warm, tropical water to the North Atlantic, where it cools, sinks, and flows back south. However, the precise role played by the AMOC in ancient climate fluctuations has been unclear.

Now Toucanne et al. have reconstructed the historical flow of a key current in the upper part (the northward flow) of the AMOC, the Glacial Eastern Boundary Current…



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