Interhemispheric Atlantic seesaw response during the last deglaciation

Nature. 2009 Feb 26;457(7233):1097-102. doi: 10.1038/nature07770.


The asynchronous relationship between millennial-scale temperature changes over Greenland and Antarctica during the last glacial period has led to the notion of a bipolar seesaw which acts to redistribute heat depending on the state of meridional overturning circulation within the Atlantic Ocean. Here we present new records from the South Atlantic that show rapid changes during the last deglaciation that were instantaneous (within dating uncertainty) and of opposite sign to those observed in the North Atlantic. Our results demonstrate a direct link between the abrupt changes associated with variations in the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation and the more gradual adjustments characteristic of the Southern Ocean. These results emphasize the importance of the Southern Ocean for the development and transmission of millennial-scale climate variability and highlight its role in deglacial climate change and the associated rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antarctic Regions
  • Atlantic Ocean
  • Atmosphere / chemistry
  • Carbon Dioxide / analysis
  • Greenhouse Effect
  • Greenland
  • History, Ancient
  • Ice Cover*
  • Plankton / metabolism
  • Seawater / analysis
  • Temperature*
  • Water Movements*


  • Carbon Dioxide