Enhanced moisture delivery into Victoria Land, East Antarctica, during the early Last Interglacial: Implications for West Antarctic Ice Sheet stability

Yuzhen Yan, Nicole E. Spaulding, Michael L. Bender, Edward J. Brook, John A. Higgins, Andrei V. Kurbatov, Paul A. Mayewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The S27 ice core, drilled in the Allan Hills Blue Ice Area of East Antarctica, is located in southern Victoria Land, ĝ1/480ĝkm away from the present-day northern edge of the Ross Ice Shelf. Here, we utilize the reconstructed accumulation rate of S27 covering the Last Interglacial (LIG) period between 129ĝka and 116ĝka (where ka indicates thousands of years before present) to infer moisture transport into the region. The accumulation rate is based on the ice-age-gas-age differences calculated from the ice chronology, which is constrained by the stable water isotopes of the ice, and an improved gas chronology based on measurements of oxygen isotopes of O2 in the trapped gases. The peak accumulation rate in S27 occurred at 128.2ĝka, near the peak LIG warming in Antarctica. Even the most conservative estimate yields an order-of-magnitude increase in the accumulation rate during the LIG maximum, whereas other Antarctic ice cores are typically characterized by a glacial-interglacial difference of a factor of 2 to 3. While part of the increase in S27 accumulation rates must originate from changes in the large-scale atmospheric circulation, additional mechanisms are needed to explain the large changes. We hypothesize that the exceptionally high snow accumulation recorded in S27 reflects open-ocean conditions in the Ross Sea, created by reduced sea ice extent and increased polynya size and perhaps by a southward retreat of the Ross Ice Shelf relative to its present-day position near the onset of the LIG. The proposed ice shelf retreat would also be compatible with a sea-level high stand around 129ĝka significantly sourced from West Antarctica. The peak in S27 accumulation rates is transient, suggesting that if the Ross Ice Shelf had indeed retreated during the early LIG, it would have re-advanced by 125ĝka.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1841-1855
Number of pages15
JournalClimate of the Past
Volume17
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 17 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Stratigraphy
  • Palaeontology

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Enhanced moisture delivery into Victoria Land, East Antarctica, during the early Last Interglacial: Implications for West Antarctic Ice Sheet stability'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this