Amplified North Atlantic warming in the late Pliocene by changes in Arctic gateways

Bette L. Otto-Bliesner, Alexandra Jahn, Ran Feng, Esther C. Brady, Aixue Hu, Marcus Löfverström

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Under previous reconstructions of late Pliocene boundary conditions, climate models have failed to reproduce the warm sea surface temperatures reconstructed in the North Atlantic. Using a reconstruction of mid-Piacenzian paleogeography that has the Bering Strait and Canadian Arctic Archipelago Straits closed, however, improves the simulation of the proxy-indicated warm sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic in the Community Climate System Model. We find that the closure of these small Arctic gateways strengthens the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, by inhibiting freshwater transport from the Pacific to the Arctic Ocean and from the Arctic Ocean to the Labrador Sea, leading to warmer sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic. This indicates that the state of the Arctic gateways may influence the sensitivity of the North Atlantic climate in complex ways, and better understanding of the state of these Arctic gateways for past time periods is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)957-964
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 28 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Arctic
  • Pliocene
  • climate modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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