Phase relationships between Antarctic and Greenland climate records

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Comparison of climate records from Antarctic and Greenland ice cores shows that the two regions respond asynchronously during millennial-scale climate changes. The apparent out-of-phase relationship between the records has been described as a climate ''seesaw'' in which cooling in the Northern Hemisphere is balanced by warming in the Southern Hemisphere. The same relationship has also been attributed to the initiation of climate-change events in the Southern Hemisphere, rather than the North Atlantic as is conventionally assumed. A simple statistical approach — band-pass filtering combined with lag-correlation tests — used to examine the phase relationships in more detail shows that neither an anti-phase nor a phase-lag relationship adequately describes the observations. Whereas Antarctic and Greenland climate records do exhibit approximate anti-phase behavior about 50% of the time, they are generally in phase during cooling. A phase lead of Southern Hemisphere climate of 1000-1600 years is statistically indistinguishable from a lag of 400-800 years, whether for Dansgaard-Oeschger, Heinrich or longer-duration events. The ''seesaw''or ''Southern lead''appearance of the data arises from the fundamentally different characteristics of the climate time series, most importantly the absence of rapid warming events in Antarctica comparable to those in Greenland. Tobe consistent with the observations, climate models will need to capture these characteristics, in addition to reproducing the correct phase relationships.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2002

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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