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Reconstructing the circulation, mixing and carbon content of the Last Glacial Maximum ocean remains challenging. Recent hypotheses suggest that a shoaled Atlantic meridional overturning circulation or increased stratification would have reduced vertical mixing, isolated the abyssal ocean and increased carbon storage, thus contributing to lower atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Here, using an ensemble of ocean simulations, we evaluate impacts of changes in tidal energy dissipation due to lower sea levels on ocean mixing, circulation, and carbon isotope distributions. We find that increased tidal mixing strengthens deep ocean flow rates and decreases vertical gradients of radiocarbon and δ13C in the deep Atlantic. Simulations with a shallower overturning circulation and more vigorous mixing fit sediment isotope data best. Our results, which are conservative, provide observational support that vertical mixing in the glacial Atlantic may have been enhanced due to more vigorous tidal dissipation, despite shoaling of the overturning circulation and increases in stratification.


  • Palaeoceanography, Palaeoclimate, Physical oceanography
Original languageEnglish
Article number166
JournalCommunications Earth and Environment
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2021
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