Articles | Volume 7, issue 2
Clim. Past, 7, 671–683, 2011
Clim. Past, 7, 671–683, 2011

Research article 24 Jun 2011

Research article | 24 Jun 2011

The last deglaciation: timing the bipolar seesaw

J. B. Pedro1,2, T. D. van Ommen1,3, S. O. Rasmussen4, V. I. Morgan1,3, J. Chappellaz5, A. D. Moy1,3, V. Masson-Delmotte6, and M. Delmotte6 J. B. Pedro et al.
  • 1Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  • 2Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  • 3Australian Antarctic Division, Kingston, Tasmania, Australia
  • 4Centre for Ice and Climate, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 5Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l'Environnement, Saint Martin d'Hères, France
  • 6Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, Saclay, France

Abstract. Precise information on the relative timing of north-south climate variations is a key to resolving questions concerning the mechanisms that force and couple climate changes between the hemispheres. We present a new composite record made from five well-resolved Antarctic ice core records that robustly represents the timing of regional Antarctic climate change during the last deglaciation. Using fast variations in global methane gas concentrations as time markers, the Antarctic composite is directly compared to Greenland ice core records, allowing a detailed mapping of the inter-hemispheric sequence of climate changes. Consistent with prior studies the synchronized records show that warming (and cooling) trends in Antarctica closely match cold (and warm) periods in Greenland on millennial timescales. For the first time, we also identify a sub-millennial component to the inter-hemispheric coupling. Within the Antarctic Cold Reversal the strongest Antarctic cooling occurs during the pronounced northern warmth of the Bølling. Warming then resumes in Antarctica, potentially as early as the Intra-Allerød Cold Period, but with dating uncertainty that could place it as late as the onset of the Younger Dryas stadial. There is little-to-no time lag between climate transitions in Greenland and opposing changes in Antarctica. Our results lend support to fast acting inter-hemispheric coupling mechanisms, including recently proposed bipolar atmospheric teleconnections and/or rapid bipolar ocean teleconnections.