Using qualitative and quantitative analyses of planktonic foraminifera assemblages, δ 18O measurements, Mg/Ca–temperature relationship (Globigerinoides ruber pink sensu stricto) data and sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) derived from artificial neural network (ANN) transfer functions, a reconstruction was made of upper water mass variability in the Anegada–Jungfern Passage (AJP), northeastern Caribbean Sea, over the last c. 11,100 years. Our record is based on the study of two marine sediment cores and reveals three main circulation stages during the Holocene. In the early-Holocene (11,100–6300 cal. yr BP), ANN-based SST estimations indicate moderately cooler than present winter condition in the NE Caribbean with SSTs of ~25.5°C. These conditions presumably reflect advection of well-mixed upper water masses from the Guyana upwelling area associated with a strong Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) and enhanced trade wind activity, linked to a more northerly location of the inter-tropical convergence zone (ITCZ). Between 6300 and 3700 cal. yr BP, a relative warming of winter SSTs (~26.5°C) was probably related to a weaker circulation and upper water mass mixing because of less intense trade wind activity, as the ITCZ moved southwards. From 3700 cal. yr BP to the present, the region was characterised by small seasonal SST variations and generally stable winter and summer SSTs. The data suggest a minor shift in the (sub)surface inflow pattern during the last 2000 years, possibly related to changes in Northern Hemisphere large-scale atmospheric circulation also observed at higher latitude. The ANN-based temperature pattern is supported by fluctuations in the Mg/Ca-derived temperature record, although temperature maxima derived from the Mg/Ca ratio appear anomalously high. On a Holocene timescale, we conclude that the northeastern Caribbean SST and circulation regime have been mainly dependent on the position of the ITCZ, which, in turn, is controlled by changes in hemispheric solar insolation.
- Caribbean palaeoceanography
- inter-tropical convergence zone
- planktonic foraminifera
- sea-surface temperature
- tropical Atlantic
- Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate