Articles | Volume 7, issue 2
Clim. Past, 7, 397–423, 2011
Clim. Past, 7, 397–423, 2011

Review article 28 Apr 2011

Review article | 28 Apr 2011

A comparison of the present and last interglacial periods in six Antarctic ice cores

V. Masson-Delmotte1, D. Buiron2, A. Ekaykin3, M. Frezzotti4, H. Gallée2, J. Jouzel1, G. Krinner2, A. Landais1, H. Motoyama5, H. Oerter6, K. Pol1, D. Pollard7, C. Ritz2, E. Schlosser8, L. C. Sime9, H. Sodemann10, B. Stenni11, R. Uemura12,1, and F. Vimeux1,13 V. Masson-Delmotte et al.
  • 1Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnemen, IPSL-CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, UMR 8212, Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 2CNRS and UJF, Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l'Environnement (LGGE, UMR 5183), Grenoble, France
  • 3Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, 38 Beringa St., 199397 St. Petersburg, Russia
  • 4ENEA, Rome, Italy
  • 5Research Organization of Information and Systems, National Institute of Polar Research, 10-3, Midoricho, Tachikawa, Tokyo, 190-8518, Japan
  • 6Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Helmholtz Association, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 7Earth and Environmental System Institute, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, USA
  • 8Institute of Meteorology and Geophysics, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
  • 9British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK
  • 10Norwegian Institute for Air Research, NILU, Kjeller, Norway
  • 11Department of Geosciences, University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy
  • 12Department of Chemistry, Biology and Marine Science, University of the Ryukyus, Nishihara, Okinawa, Japan
  • 13Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, IRD, Laboratoire HydroSciences Montpellier, HSM, UMR 5569, CNRS-IRD-UM1-UM2, Montpellier, France

Abstract. We compare the present and last interglacial periods as recorded in Antarctic water stable isotope records now available at various temporal resolutions from six East Antarctic ice cores: Vostok, Taylor Dome, EPICA Dome C (EDC), EPICA Dronning Maud Land (EDML), Dome Fuji and the recent TALDICE ice core from Talos Dome. We first review the different modern site characteristics in terms of ice flow, meteorological conditions, precipitation intermittency and moisture origin, as depicted by meteorological data, atmospheric reanalyses and Lagrangian moisture source diagnostics. These different factors can indeed alter the relationships between temperature and water stable isotopes. Using five records with sufficient resolution on the EDC3 age scale, common features are quantified through principal component analyses. Consistent with instrumental records and atmospheric model results, the ice core data depict rather coherent and homogenous patterns in East Antarctica during the last two interglacials. Across the East Antarctic plateau, regional differences, with respect to the common East Antarctic signal, appear to have similar patterns during the current and last interglacials. We identify two abrupt shifts in isotopic records during the glacial inception at TALDICE and EDML, likely caused by regional sea ice expansion. These regional differences are discussed in terms of moisture origin and in terms of past changes in local elevation histories, which are compared to ice sheet model results. Our results suggest that elevation changes may contribute significantly to inter-site differences. These elevation changes may be underestimated by current ice sheet models.