Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

North Atlantic thermohaline circulation during the past 20,000 years linked to high-latitude surface temperature


During a surface cooling event 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, higher Cd/Ca and lower 13C/12C ratios are observed in benthic foraminifera shells from rapidly accumulating western North Atlantic sediments. Data from sediment cores show that marked nutrient depletion of intermediate waters occurs in association with reduced glacial North Atlantic Deep Water flux. It is proposed that cold high-latitude sea surface temperatures enhance intermediate-water formation at the expense of deep-water formation.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


  1. 1. Broecker, W. S. in Milankovitch and Climate (eds Berger, A. et al.) 687-698 (Reidel, Dordrecht, 1984). 2. Duplessy, J.-C., Delibrias, G., Turon, G., Pujol, C. & Duprat, J. Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol. 35, 121-144 (1981). 3. Mix, A. C. & Ruddiman, W. F. Quat. Sci. Rev. 4, 59-108 (1985). 4. Bloom, A. L. in Late Cenozoic Glacial Ages (ed. Turekian, K. K.) 355-380 (Yale University Press, 1971). 5. Lowe, J. J., Gray, J. M. & Robinson, J. E. Late Glacial of Northwest Europe (Pergamon, Oxford, 1980). 6. Broecker, W. S., Peteet, D. M. & Rind, D. Nature 315, 21-26 (1985). 7. Broecker, W. S. et al. Palaeoceanography (in the press). 8. Dansgaard, W. Am. geophys. Un. Monogr. 29, 288-298 (1984). 9. Hammer, C. U., Clausen, H. B. & Tauber, H. Radiocarbon 28, 284-291 (1986). 10. Rind, D., Peteet, D., Broecker, W., Mclntyre, A. & Ruddiman, W. dim. Dyn. 1, 3-33 (1986). 11. Keigwin, L. D., Corliss, B. H., Druffel, E. R. M. & Laine, E. P. Quat. Res. 22,383-386 (1984). 12. Laine, E. P. & Hollister, C. D. Mar. Geol. 39, 277-300 (1981). 13. Shackleton, N. J. & Chappell, J. Nature 324, 137-140 (1986). 14. Broecker, W. S. & Peng, T. H. Tracers in the Sea (Eldigio, Palisades, 1982). 15. Duplessy, J.-C. et al. Nature 320, 350-352 (1986). 16. Boyle, E. A. & Keigwin, L. D. Earth planet. Sci. Lett. 76, 135-150 (1985). 17. Boyle, E. A. & Keigwin, L. D. Science 218, 784-787 (1982). 18. Oppo, D. & Fairbanks, R. G. Earth planet. Sci. Lett, (in the press). 19. Bainbridge, A. E. GEOSECS Atlantic Ocean Atlas (US Government Printing Office, Washington, 1980). 20. Craig, H., Broecker, W. S. & Spencer, D. W. GEOSECS Pacific Ocean Atlas (US Government Printing Office, Washington, 1982). 21. Weiss, R., Broecker, W. S., Craig, H. & Spencer, D. W. GEOSECS Indian Ocean Atlas (US Government Printing Office, Washington, 1982). 22. Boyle, E. A. Geochim. cosmochim. Acta 50, 265-276 (1985). 23. Boyle, E. A. Palaeoceanography (in the press). 24. Boyle, E. A. Am. geophys. Un. Monogr. 29, 360-368 (1984). 25. Stalcup, M. C., Metcalf, W. G. & Johnson, R. G. J. mar. Res. Suppl. 33, 15-35 (1975). 26. Richards, F. A. /. mar. Res. 17, 449-465 (1958). 27. CLIMAP project members Quat. Res. 21, 123-124 (1984). 28. Duplessy, J.-C. & Shackleton, N. J. Nature 316, 500-507 (1985). 29. Zahn, R., Winn, K. & Sarnthein, M. Palaeoceanography 1, 27-42 (1986). 30. Warren, B. A. /. mar. Res. 41, 327-347 (1983). 31. Reid, J. L. Johns Hopkins Oceanographic Studies no. 2 (Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore, 1965). 32. Mclntyre, A. et al. Mem. geol. Soc. Am. 145, 43-76 (1976). 33. CLIMAP project members Geol. Soc. Am. Map and Chart Ser. No. 36 (1981). 34. Manabe, S. & Broccoli, A. J. J. geophys. Res. 90, 2167-2190 (1985). 35. Zahn, R., Sarnthein, M. & Erlenkeuser, M. Palaeoceanography (in the press). 36. Bryden, H. & Stommel, H. Oceanol. Acta 7, 289-296 (1984). 37. Held, I. M. in Circulation in the Atmosphere (eds Hoskins, B. & Pierce, B.) (Academic, New York, 1982). 38. Ku, T.-L., Bischoff, J. L. & Boersma, A. Deep-Sea Res. 19, 233-247 (1972). 39. Erickson, D. B. in The Sea Vol. 1 (ed. Hill, M. N.) (Interscience, New York, 1963).

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Boyle, E., Keigwin, L. North Atlantic thermohaline circulation during the past 20,000 years linked to high-latitude surface temperature. Nature 330, 35–40 (1987).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing