Jessica Whitaker, MS student (B. Flower, advisor)
College of Marine Science
University of South Florida


B.S. Biology 2003, Randolph-Macon Woman’s College

Research Interests

During Late Pleistocene glacial terminations Laurentide Ice Sheet (LIS) meltwater enters the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). As of yet, it is unclear whether or not weak warm periods, such as marine isotope stages (MIS) 3, 5a and 5c, were associated with meltwater discharge events. It is equally unknown how the timing of these events, if they existed, relates to millennial scale warm intervals determined from Greenland and Antarctic ice core records. ODP site 625, drilled at a water depth of ~900 m near De Soto Canyon, provides continuous records of MIS 1-6 sampled at a mean temporal resolution of ~400 years. Using paired measurements of d18O and Mg/Ca of the planktonic foraminifer Globigerinoides ruber (white and pink varieties) I am investigating the phasing between meltwater events and sea surface temperature (SST) changes to understand the dynamics of LIS melting. The timing of southern routing of LIS meltwater has implications for potential disruption of meridional overturning circulation (MOC) during late Pleistocene orbital- to millennial-scale climate changes. However, the initial forcing to instigate large meltwater perturbations is ambiguous. Resolving the phasing of regional SST and LIS meltwater events in relationship to high latitude records will increase understanding of important climate feedbacks and the role of the tropics in climate change.