Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Dec 13;113(50):14249-14254. Epub 2016 Nov 28.

Deglacial temperature history of West Antarctica.

Author information

1
Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720; kcuffey@berkeley.edu.
2
Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center, United States Geological Survey, Lakewood, CO 80225.
3
Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195.
4
College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331.
5
Department of Geosciences, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802.
6
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093.

Abstract

The most recent glacial to interglacial transition constitutes a remarkable natural experiment for learning how Earth's climate responds to various forcings, including a rise in atmospheric CO2 This transition has left a direct thermal remnant in the polar ice sheets, where the exceptional purity and continual accumulation of ice permit analyses not possible in other settings. For Antarctica, the deglacial warming has previously been constrained only by the water isotopic composition in ice cores, without an absolute thermometric assessment of the isotopes' sensitivity to temperature. To overcome this limitation, we measured temperatures in a deep borehole and analyzed them together with ice-core data to reconstruct the surface temperature history of West Antarctica. The deglacial warming was [Formula: see text]C, approximately two to three times the global average, in agreement with theoretical expectations for Antarctic amplification of planetary temperature changes. Consistent with evidence from glacier retreat in Southern Hemisphere mountain ranges, the Antarctic warming was mostly completed by 15 kyBP, several millennia earlier than in the Northern Hemisphere. These results constrain the role of variable oceanic heat transport between hemispheres during deglaciation and quantitatively bound the direct influence of global climate forcings on Antarctic temperature. Although climate models perform well on average in this context, some recent syntheses of deglacial climate history have underestimated Antarctic warming and the models with lowest sensitivity can be discounted.

KEYWORDS:

Antarctica; climate; glaciology; paleoclimate; temperature

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center