Climatic Teleconnections Recorded By Tropical Mountain Glaciers

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 8:00 AM
Lonnie G Thompson1,2, Donaldi Permana1,2, Ellen Mosley-Thompson1,3 and Mary Elizabeth Davis1, (1)The Ohio State University, Byrd Polar Research Center, Columbus, OH, United States, (2)The Ohio State University, School of Earth Sciences, Columbus, OH, United States, (3)The Ohio State University, Department of Geography, Columbus, OH, United States
Information from ice cores from the world’s highest mountains in the Tropics demonstrates both local climate variability and a high degree of teleconnectivity across the Pacific basin. Here we examine recently recovered ice core records from glaciers near Puncak Jaya in Papua, Indonesia, which lie on the highest peak between the Himalayas and the South American Andes. These glaciers are located on the western side of the Tropical Pacific warm pool, which is the “center of action” for interannual climate variability dominated by El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). ENSO either directly or indirectly affects most regions of Earth and their populations. In 2010, two ice cores measuring 32.13 m and 31.25 m were recovered to bedrock from the East Northwall Firn ice field. Both have been analyzed in high resolution (~3 cm sample length, 1156 and 1606 samples, respectively) for stable isotopes, dust, major ions and tritium concentrations. To better understand the controls on the oxygen isotopic (δ18 O) signal for this region, daily rainfall samples were collected between January 2013 and February 2014 at five weather stations over a distance of ~90 km ranging from 9 meters above sea level (masl) on the southern coast up to 3945 masl. The calculated isotopic lapse rate for this region is 0.24 ‰/100m. Papua, Indonesian ice core records are compared to ice core records from Dasuopu Glacier in the central Himalayas and from Quelccaya, Huascarán, Hualcán and Coropuna ice fields in the tropical Andes of Peru on the eastern side of the Pacific Ocean. The composite of the annual isotopic time series from these cores is significantly (R2 =0.53) related to tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures (SSTs), reflecting the strong linkage between tropical Pacific SSTs associated with ENSO and tropospheric temperatures in the low latitudes. New data on the already well-documented concomitant loss of ice on Quelccaya, Kilimanjaro in eastern Africa and the ice fields near Puncak Jaya reinforce the hypothesis that large-scale tropical processes dominate recent tropical glacier retreat. The observed widespread melting of glaciers is consistent with model predictions of a vertical amplification of temperature, which is documented by increasing isotopic enrichment in ice cores from high elevation glaciers throughout the Tropics.