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Climate variability in West Antarctica derived from annual accumulation-rate records from ITASE firn/ice cores

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Thirteen annually resolved accumulation-rate records covering the last ∼200 years from the Pine Island–Thwaites and Ross drainage systems and the South Pole are used to examine climate variability over West Antarctica. Accumulation is controlled spatially by the topography of the ice sheet, and temporally by changes in moisture transport and cyclonic activity. A comparison of mean accumulation since 1970 at each site to the long-term mean indicates an increase in accumulation for sites located in the western sector of the Pine Island–Thwaites drainage system. Accumulation is negatively associated with the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) for sites near the ice divide, and periods of sustained negative SOI (1940–42, 1991–95) correspond to above-mean accumulation at most sites. Correlations of the accumulation-rate records with sea-level pressure (SLP) and the SOI suggest that accumulation near the ice divide and in the Ross drainage system may be associated with the mid-latitudes. The post-1970 increase in accumulation coupled with strong SLP–accumulation-rate correlations near the coast suggests recent intensification of cyclonic activity in the Pine Island–Thwaites drainage system.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2004-06-01

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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.

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