UC San Diego
Temperature reconstruction at the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide, for the last millennium, from the combination of borehole temperature and inert gas isotope measurements /
- Author(s): Orsi, Anais J.
- et al.
The study of past climates informs us on the causes, amplitude and mechanisms of climate change, which is necessary to our ability to predict future changes, and build the necessary infrastructure to ensure the resilience of our society to these changes. Local climate records contain both large scale and local signals, from both external forcing, such as radiative forcing, and internal climate variability. In order to understand the response of the climate system to global drivers, we must average out the local signals into hemispheric or global variables. This process has been difficult because we lack the spatial coverage in large areas of the Earth, including the oceans, and much of the Southern Hemisphere. The work presented here aims at improving our knowledge of the climate by producing a new temperature time series from the center of West Antarctica for the last 1000 years, a region previously unexplored. This temperature reconstruction is based on a new method, combining borehole temperature measurements with inert gas isotopes from the WAIS-Divide ice cores into a single inverse problem. Borehole temperature measurements constrain the long term changes in the climate, while inert gas isotopes record decadal to centennial scale changes. Together, they produce a temperature estimate that is independent of the traditional water isotope proxy [Delta]¹⁸O of ice, and provide a way to calibrate it. WAIS-Divide experienced a long term cooling trend from 950 to 1850 A.D., which ended abruptly by warming by 2.3°C in 30 years. More recently, WAIS-Divide has been warming by more than 1.5°C since 1957, which refutes the idea that Antarctica would not experience the current warming seen elsewhere. The long term cooling trend was superimposed on centennial scale variations in the climate, including two warming events, notably between 1315 and 1395 A.D., 1596 and 1626 A.D., with a warming rate of 0.24 and 0.32°C/decade. This evidence shows that the current rate of warming at WAIS- Divide, of 0.23°C/decade for the last 50 years is rare but not unprecedented. This record is consistent with the idea that the decrease in solar radiation from 1400 to 1800 A.D. induced widespread cooling in mid and high latitudes of both hemispheres