Journal article Open Access
Abstract: Climate during the Last Interglacial period (LIG, Marine Isotope Stage 5e) was on average warmer than the present, with a higher global sea level but also more unstable conditions. Today, the Baltic Sea interacts strongly with conditions in the North Atlantic region, and this interaction was likely even stronger during the LIG. We here present a reconstruction of seawater conditions during the LIG based on benthic foraminiferal geochemistry (stable isotopes and trace elements) and compare these records with modern marine monitoring data to evaluate seasonal hydrographic conditions in the western and southern Baltic Sea during the first half of the LIG (130e123 ka BP). Our reconstructions reflect the evolution of seasonal temperature and salinity, rather than annual mean conditions. The spring LIG bottom water temperatures in the Skagerrak and Kattegat were ~2e3 C higher compared to the modern spring bottom water temperatures. During the LIG, there was an increase in seasonality in bottom water temperature (progressively warmer summers and cooler springs) in the southern Baltic Sea, which can be linked to seasonal insolation changes. Moreover, our data suggest a decreased gradient of bottom water salinity along a transect through the Skagerrak-Kattegat-Danish Straits-southern Baltic Sea, supporting previous investigations inferring a stronger ocean-water influx into the Baltic Sea during the LIG than at present.