The Role of the Tropics in Last Glacial Abrupt Climate Change from a West Antarctic Ice Core

Monday, 15 December 2014: 10:35 AM
Tyler R Jones1, James W C White2, Eric J. Steig3, Kurt M Cuffey4, Bruce H Vaughn5, Valerie A Morris5, Gkinis Vasileios6, Bradley R Markle3 and Spruce W Schoenemann3, (1)Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, Boulder, CO, United States, (2)Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, Geological Sciences, Boulder, CO, United States, (3)University of Washington, Seattle, WA, United States, (4)University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, United States, (5)University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, United States, (6)Centre for Ice and Climate, Copenhagen, Denmark
Debate exists as to whether last glacial abrupt climate changes in Greenland, and associated changes in Antarctica, had a high-latitude or tropical trigger. An ultra high-resolution water isotope record from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide (WAIS Divide) Ice Core Project has been developed with three key water isotope parameters that offer insight into this debate: δD, δ18O, and deuterium excess (dxs). δD and δ18O are a proxy for local temperature and regional atmospheric circulation, while dxs is primarily a proxy for sea surface temperature at the ice core’s moisture source(s) (relative humidity and wind speed also play a role). We build on past studies that show West Antarctic climate is modulated by El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) teleconnection mechanisms, which originate in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, to infer how past ENSO changes may have influenced abrupt climate change. Using frequency analysis of the water isotope data, we can reconstruct the amplitude of ENSO-scale climate oscillations in the 2-15 year range within temporal windows as low as 100 years. Our analysis uses a back diffusion model that estimates initial amplitudes before decay in the firn column. We combine δD, δ18O, and dxs frequency analysis to evaluate how climate variability at WAIS Divide is influenced by tropical climate forcing. Our results should ultimately offer insight into the role of the tropics in abrupt climate change.