, Volume 17, Issue 7, pp 503-513

Holocene hydrological cycle changes in the Southern Hemisphere documented in East Antarctic deuterium excess records

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Four Holocene-long East Antarctic deuterium excess records are used to study past changes of the hydrological cycle in the Southern Hemisphere. We combine simple and complex isotopic models to quantify the relationships between Antarctic deuterium excess fluctuations and the sea surface temperature (SST) integrated over the moisture source areas for Antarctic snow. The common deuterium excess increasing trend during the first half of the Holocene is therefore interpreted in terms of a warming of the average ocean moisture source regions over this time. Available Southern Hemisphere SST records exhibit opposite trends at low latitudes (warming) and at high latitudes (cooling) during the Holocene. The agreement between the Antarctic deuterium excess and low-latitude SST trends supports the idea that the tropics dominate in providing moisture for Antarctic precipitation. The opposite trends in SSTs at low and high latitudes can potentially be explained by the decreasing obliquity during the Holocene inducing opposite trends in the local mean annual insolation between low and high latitudes. It also implies an increased latitudinal insolation gradient that in turn can maintain a stronger atmospheric circulation transporting more tropical moisture to Antarctica. This mechanism is supported by results from a mid-Holocene climate simulation performed using a coupled ocean-atmosphere model.

Received: 7 July 1999 / Accepted: 21 July 2000