30 May 2017
30 May 2017
Status: this preprint was under review for the journal CP. A revision for further review has not been submitted.

Leads and lags between Antarctic temperature and carbon dioxide during the last deglaciation

Léa Gest1, Frédéric Parrenin1, Jai Chowdhry Beeman1, Dominique Raynaud1, Tyler J. Fudge2, Christo Buizert3, and Edward J. Brook3 Léa Gest et al.
  • 1Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, IRD, IGE, 38000 Grenoble, France
  • 2Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
  • 3College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA

Abstract. To understand causal relationships in past climate variations, it is essential to have accurate chronologies of paleoclimate records. The last deglaciation, which occurred from 18 000 to 11 000 years ago, is especially interesting, since it is the most recent large climatic variation of global extent. Ice cores in Antarctica provide important paleoclimate proxies, such as regional temperature and global atmospheric CO2. However, temperature is recorded in the ice while CO2 is recorded in the enclosed air bubbles. The ages of the former and of the latter are different since air is trapped at 50–120 m below the surface. It is therefore necessary to correct for this air-ice shift to accurately infer the sequence of events.

Here we accurately determine the phasing between East Antarctic temperature and atmospheric CO2 variations during the last deglacial warming based on Antarctic ice core records. We build a stack of East Antarctic temperature variations by averaging the records from 4 ice cores (EPICA Dome C, Dome Fuji, EPICA Dronning Maud Land and Talos Dome), all accurately synchronized by volcanic event matching. We place this stack onto the WAIS Divide WD2014 age scale by synchronizing EPICA Dome C and WAIS Divide using volcanic event matching, which allows comparison with the high resolution CO2 record from WAIS Divide. Since WAIS Divide is a high accumulation site, its air age scale, which has previously been determined by firn modeling, is more robust. Finally, we assess the CO2/Antarctic temperature phasing by determining four periods when their trends change abruptly.

We find that at the onset of the last deglaciation and at the onset of the Antarctic Cold Reversal (ACR) period CO2 and Antarctic temperature are synchronous within a range of 210 years. Then CO2 slightly leads by 165 ± 116 years at the end of the Antarctic Cold Reversal (ACR) period. Finally, Antarctic temperature significantly leads by 406 ± 200 years at the onset of the Holocene period. Our results further support the hypothesis of no convective zone at EPICA Dome C during the last deglaciation and the use of nitrogen-15 to infer the height of the diffusive zone. Future climate and carbon cycle modeling works should take into account this robust phasing constraint.

Léa Gest et al.

Status: closed (peer review stopped)
Status: closed (peer review stopped)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Printer-friendly Version - Printer-friendly version Supplement - Supplement
Status: closed (peer review stopped)
Status: closed (peer review stopped)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Printer-friendly Version - Printer-friendly version Supplement - Supplement

Léa Gest et al.

Léa Gest et al.


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Short summary
In this manuscript, we place the atmospheric CO2 and Antarctic temperature records onto a common age scale during the last deglaciation. Moreover, we evaluate the phase relationship between those two records in order to discuss possible climatic and carbon cycle scenarios. Indeed, this phase relationship is central to determine the role of the former in past (and therefore future) climatic variations. This scientific problem was even discussed by some policy makers (e.g., in the USA senate).