Rise in frequency of surface melting at Siple Dome through the Holocene: Evidence for increasing marine influence on the climate of West Antarctica

Sarah B. Das, Richard B. Alley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Scopus citations

Abstract

A new melt layer history from Siple Dome, West Antarctica, indicates notable late-Holocene summertime warming. Visual stratigraphic analyses of the 1004-m ice core identified 62 years with melt layers. Melting events began around 11.7 ka, followed by a period of no melting from 8.8 - 6.6 ka. Melt layer frequency increased from 6.6 ka to the present, with the 1000-year-average melt layer frequency reaching a maximum of 2% at 0.8 ka. We use our millennial-scale archive of melt events as a unique seasonal paleothermometer to elucidate changes in West Antarctic Holocene summer climate. Our calibration suggests the change in melt frequency from 0% to 2% may represent a summer temperature increase of ≥2°C from the middle to late Holocene. This temperature change cannot be explained entirely by local change in ice elevation or summer insolation and is in contrast to East Antarctic climate records, which show peak warmth in the early Holocene followed by stable or decreasing temperature. We interpret the rise in melt frequency as evidence of an increasing marine influence on the Ross Sea sector of West Antarctica. Although the surface elevation of Siple Dome has not changed greatly, the continued lateral retreat of the West Antarctic ice sheet from its Last Glacial Maximum configuration (across the outer continental shelf), and the delayed drawdown in ice thickness from the adjacent coastal Marie Byrd Land region, in conjunction with periods of increased cyclogenesis, perhaps related to variations in ENSO, would allow a moderated maritime climate to more easily reach West Antarctica.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberD02112
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Volume113
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 27 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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