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High-resolution ice-core stable-isotopic records from Antarctica: towards interannual climate reconstruction

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Ice-core records are a key resource for reconstructing Antarctic climate. However, a number of physical processes preclude the simple interpretation of ice-core properties such as oxygen isotopic ratios in terms of climate variables like temperature or sea-level pressure. We show that well-dated, sub-annually resolved stable-isotopic records from the United States International Trans-Antarctic Scientific Expedition (US-ITASE) traverses and other sources have a high correlation with local seasonal temperature variation. However, this temporal relationship cannot be simply extended to quantitative interannual resolution reconstructions of site temperature. We suggest that a consistent and important target for ice-core calibrations is a composite of annual mean temperature records from Antarctic weather stations, which covaries strongly with the dominant mode (from principal component analysis) of temperature variability in the Antarctic. Significant correlations with this temperature index are found with individual ice-core records, with a composite of the ice cores, and through a multiple linear regression model with the ice cores as predictors. These results imply that isotopic signals, like the instrumental temperature mode itself, have a strong response to large-scale atmospheric circulation variability, which in the Antarctic region is dominated by the Southern Annular Mode.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2005

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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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