Timing of abrupt climate change at the end of the younger dryas interval from thermally fractionated gases in polar ice

Jeffrey P. Severinghaus, Todd Sowers, Edward J. Brook, Richard B. Alley, Michael L. Bender

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

485 Scopus citations

Abstract

Rapid temperature change fractionates gas isotopes in unconsolidated snow, producing a signal that is preserved in trapped air bubbles as the snow forms ice. The fractionation of nitrogen and argon isotopes at the end of the Younger Dryas cold interval, recorded in Greenland ice, demonstrates that warming at this time was abrupt. This warming coincides with the onset of prominent rise in atmospheric methane concentration, indicating that the climate change was synchronous (within a few decades) over a region of at least hemispheric extent, and providing constraints on previously proposed mechanisms of climate change at this time. The depth of the nitrogen-isotopes signal relative to the depth of the climate change recorded in the ice matrix indicates that, during the Younger Dryas, the summit of Greenland was 15 ± 3 °C colder than today.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-146
Number of pages6
JournalNature
Volume391
Issue number6663
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 8 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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