Investigation of Glacial/Interglacial Periods Using IRD Flux Records from Site U1340A in the Bering Sea

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Manu Raj Chopra1, Michelle Kim Drake1, Daniel Mendoza1 and Ana Christina Ravelo2, (1)University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA, United States, (2)University of California-Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA, United States
The rate of sea level rise has increased over the last decades in part due to enhanced ice sheet melting. The purpose of my project is to study the processes that control the growth and decay of ice sheets surrounding the Bering Sea. Two major orbital cycles affect ice sheet size: precession has periodicity of ~20 thousand years (kyr) and results in changes in the Earth-sun distance during each season, and obliquity has a period of 41 kyr and results in a shift in the Earth’s axial tilt by 2.5 degrees. The Milankovitch theory states that glacial-interglacial cycles were caused by changes in summertime solar radiation, which varies at both precession and obliquity periodicities of 20 and 41 kyr. However, in some geologic periods, benthic foramininfera oxygen isotope records reveal only 41 kyr variability in global ice volume. Two theories, each with different implications regarding how ice sheets respond to solar heating, have been proposed to explain this discrepancy; Raymo et al. (2006) predict that individual ice sheets vary at both 20 and 41 kyr periodicities even if the sum total of global ice volume varies only at 41 kyr, while Huybers (2008) predicts that individual ice sheets vary only at the 41 kyr periodicity. To test these theories, we created a proxy record, from ~1.3 to 1.7 myrs ago, of local ice sheet dynamics using estimates of mass accumulation and flux of Ice Rafted Debris (IRD) from IODP Site U1340A in the Bering Sea. IRD, defined as terrigenous grains greater than 250µm, is transported by icebergs, and is used as a proxy to analyze changes in ice sheet size. We find evidence for ~20 kyr variability, suggesting that local ice sheets are sensitive to the peak intensity of summertime solar forcing. This work is a step in determining how ice sheets respond to changes in seasonal and annual average heating.