Ocean circulation


Ruddiman William F., Earth’s climate – Past and future – Third Edition Fig. 2-24, 2014 after Merritts et al., 1997
Source : Ruddiman William F., Earth’s climate – Past and future – Third Edition Fig. 2-24, 2014 after Merritts et al., 1997. Légende: La circulation thermohaline en Atlantique Nord : chemin parcouru par les eaux de surface chaudes et salées (flèches rouges), et les eaux profondes (flèches bleues) devenues plus fraiches et moins salées, au Nord de l’Icelande et dans la Mer du Labrador.

Ocean circulation is a key component of the climatic system, both present and past. Up until now must studies have revealed changes in surface and deep water masses, but there are is very little data for the intermediate waters even though they play a major role in the transfer of salt and heat at the scale glacial-interglacial cycles and abrupt events. Our work, therefore, focuses on documenting variations in the intermediate water masses, and associated flows of water, heat and salt, for several regions that are key to the current climatic system: i) the North Atlantic and its relationships with the Mediterranean in the context of present and future changes in Meridional  Ocean Circulation  (AMOC) and the impact on the Northern European climate; ii) the Northern Indian Ocean (the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea) and its relationship with the Southern Ocean; iii) the South China Sea. Our team is working to reconstruct variations in circulation, from a centennial scale to the scale of glacial-interglacial cycles, by studying the composition, both mineralogical (clays, CaCO3 content) and geochemical (element ratios, isotopic geochemistry) of marine sediments and their biogenic fraction (corals, foraminifera).


The aims of our research activities are two-fold: firstly, to improve our knowledge of the hydrology of the Mediterranean and the European coast in order to reconstruct the AMOC and, secondly, to gain a better understanding of changes in circulation in the Indian Ocean and the role of the Southern Ocean.

Doctoral students

Associated missions

Ongoing projects

Recent publications

Bonneau L, Colin C, Pons-Branchu E, Mienis F, Tisnerat-Laborde N, Blamart D, Eliott M, Collart T, Frank N, Foliot L, Douville E [2018] Imprint of Holocene climate variability on cold-water coral reef growth at the SW Rockall Trough margin NE Atlantic; Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems doi: 101029/2018GC007502

Dubois-Dauphin Q, Colin C, Bonneau L, Montagna P, Wu Q, Van Rooij D, Reverdin G, Douville E, Thil F, Waldner A, Frank N [2017] Fingerprinting Northeast Atlantic water masses using Neodymium isotopes; Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 210, 267–288

Dubois-Dauphin Q, Montagna P, Siani G, Douville E, Wienberg C, Hebbeln D, Liu Z, Kallel N, Dapoigny A, Revel M, Pons-Branchu E, Colin C [2017] Hydrological variations of the intermediate water masses of the western Mediterranean Sea during the past 20 ka inferred from neodymium isotopic composition in foraminifera and cold-water corals; Climate of the Past 13, 17-37

Dubois-Dauphin Q, Bonneau L, Colin C, Montero-Serrano JC, Montagna P, Blamart D, Hebbeln D, Van Rooij D, Pons-Branchu E, Hemsing F, Wefing AM, Frank N [2016] South Atlantic intermediate water advances into the North-east Atlantic with reduced Atlantic meridional overturning circulation during the last glacial period; Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems 17(6), 2236-2353