The salinity, temperature, and delta18O of the glacial deep ocean

Science. 2002 Nov 29;298(5599):1769-73. doi: 10.1126/science.1076252.


We use pore fluid measurements of the chloride concentration and the oxygen isotopic composition from Ocean Drilling Program cores to reconstruct salinity and temperature of the deep ocean during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Our data show that the temperatures of the deep Pacific, Southern, and Atlantic oceans during the LGM were relatively homogeneous and within error of the freezing point of seawater at the ocean's surface. Our chloride data show that the glacial stratification was dominated by salinity variations, in contrast with the modern ocean, for which temperature plays a primary role. During the LGM the Southern Ocean contained the saltiest water in the deep ocean. This reversal of the modern salinity contrast between the North and South Atlantic implies that the freshwater budget at the poles must have been quite different. A strict conversion of mean salinity at the LGM to equivalent sea-level change yields a value in excess of 140 meters. However, the storage of fresh water in ice shelves and/or groundwater reserves implies that glacial salinity is a poor predictor of mean sea level.