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Synchronization of Heinrich and Dansgaard-Oeschger Events through Ice-Ocean Interactions
  • Logan Elliott Mann,
  • Alexander Robel,
  • Colin Meyer
Logan Elliott Mann
Dartmouth College, Dartmouth College

Corresponding Author:logan.e.mann.th@dartmouth.edu

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Alexander Robel
Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology
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Colin Meyer
Dartmouth College, Dartmouth College
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The cause of Heinrich events and their relationship with Dansgaard-Oeschger (DO) events are not fully understood. Previous modeling studies have argued that Heinrich events result from either internal oscillations generated within ice sheets or ocean warming occurring during DO events. In this study, we present a coupled model of ice stream and ocean dynamics to evaluate the behavior of the coupled system with few degrees of freedom and minimal parameterizations. Both components of the model may oscillate independently, with stagnant versus active phases for the ice stream model and strong versus weak Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) phases for the ocean model. The ice sheet and ocean interact through submarine melt at the ice stream grounding line and freshwater flux into the ocean from ice sheet discharge. We show that these two oscillators have a strong tendency to synchronize, even when their interaction is weak, due to the amplification of small perturbations typical in nonlinear oscillators. In syn- chronized regimes with ocean-induced melt at the ice stream grounding line, Heinrich events always follow DO events by a constant time lag. We also introduce noise into the ocean system and find that ice-ocean interactions not only maintain a narrow distribu- tion of timing between Heinrich and DO events, but also regulate DO event periodic- ity against noise in the climate system. This synchronization persists across a broad range of parameters, indicating that it is a robust explanation for Heinrich events and their timing despite the significant uncertainty associated with past ice sheet conditions.
Nov 2021Published in Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology volume 36 issue 11. 10.1029/2021PA004334