Articles | Volume 12, issue 2
Research article
03 Feb 2016
Research article |  | 03 Feb 2016

Spatial and temporal oxygen isotope variability in northern Greenland – implications for a new climate record over the past millennium

S. Weißbach, A. Wegner, T. Opel, H. Oerter, B. M. Vinther, and S. Kipfstuhl

Abstract. We present for the first time all 12 δ18O records obtained from ice cores drilled in the framework of the North Greenland Traverse (NGT) between 1993 and 1995 in northern Greenland. The cores cover an area of 680 km  ×  317 km, 10 % of the Greenland ice sheet. Depending on core length (100–175 m) and accumulation rate (90–200 kg m−2 a−1) the single records reflect an isotope–temperature history over the last 500–1100 years.

Lowest δ18O mean values occur north of the summit and east of the main divide as a consequence of Greenland's topography. In general, ice cores drilled on the main ice divide show different results than those drilled east of the main ice divide that might be influenced by secondary regional moisture sources.

A stack of all NGT records and the NGRIP record is presented with improved signal-to-noise ratio. Compared to single records, this stack represents the mean δ18O signal for northern Greenland that is interpreted as proxy for temperature. Our northern Greenland δ18O stack indicates distinctly enriched δ18O values during medieval times, about AD 1420 ± 20 and from AD 1870 onwards. The period between AD 1420 and AD 1850 has depleted δ18O values compared to the average for the entire millennium and represents the Little Ice Age. The δ18O values of the 20th century are comparable to the medieval period but are lower than that about AD 1420.

Short summary
Based on a set of 12 intermediate deep ice cores, covering an area of about 200 000 km2, we studied the spatial and temporal d18O patterns of northern Greenland over the past millennium and found a strong east-west gradient related to the main ice divide. A stacked record with significantly reduced noise revealed distinct climate variations with a pronounced Little Ice Age and distinct warm events such as the Medieval Climate Anomaly, around AD 1420 and in the 20th century.