Deglacial sea surface conditions in the subarctic North Pacific and marginal seas are the subject of increasing interest in paleoceanography. However, a cohesive picture of near-surface oceanography from which to compare inter and intra-regional variability through the last deglaciation is lacking. We present a synthesis of sea surface temperature covering the open North Pacific and its marginal seas, spanning the past 20 ka using proxy records from foraminiferal calcite (δ18O and Mg/Ca) and coccolithophore alkenones (Uk’37). Sea surface temperature proxies tend to be in agreement through the Holocene, though Uk’37 records are often interpreted as warmer than adjacent δ18O or Mg/Ca records during the Last Glacial Maximum and early deglaciation. In the Sea of Okhotsk, Holocene discrepancies between δ18O and Uk’37 may be the result of changes in near-surface stratification. We find that sea-surface warming occurred prior to the onset of the Bølling-Allerød (14.7 ka) and coincident with the onset of the Holocene (11.7 ka) in much of the North Pacific and Bering Sea. Proxy records also show a cold reversal roughly synchronous with the Younger Dryas (12.9–11.7 ka). After the onset of the Holocene, the influence of an intensified warm Kuroshio Current is evident at higher latitudes in the Western Pacific, and an east-west seesaw in sea surface temperature, likely driven by changes in the strength of the North Pacific Gyre, characterizes the open interglacial North Pacific.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Global and Planetary Change
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Bering sea
- North Pacific
- Sea of Okhotsk
- Sea surface temperature