Climate Dynamics

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 427-438

First online:

Dust size evidence for opposite regional atmospheric circulation changes over east Antarctica during the last climatic transition

  • B. DelmonteAffiliated withLaboratoire de Glaciologie et de Géophysique de l’Environnement (LGGE-CNRS)University of Milano-Bicocca, Dipartimento Scienze AmbientaliUniversity of Siena, Department of Geological Science Email author 
  • , J. R. PetitAffiliated withUniversity of Milano-Bicocca, Dipartimento Scienze Ambientali
  • , K. K. AndersenAffiliated withNiels Bohr Institute for Astronomy, Physics and Geophysics, University of Copenhagen
  • , I. Basile-DoelschAffiliated withIRD
  • , V. MaggiAffiliated withUniversity of Milano-Bicocca, Dipartimento Scienze Ambientali
  • , V. Ya LipenkovAffiliated withArctic and Antarctic Research Institute

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Three east Antarctic ice cores (Dome B, EPICA-Dome C and Komsomolskaia) give evidence for a uniform dust input to the polar plateau during the last glacial maximum (LGM)/Holocene transition (20 to 10 kyr BP) and the 87Sr/86Sr versus 143Nd/144Nd isotopic signature of the mineral particles highlights a common provenance from southern South America at that time. However, the size distribution of dust from the three ice cores highlights important differences within the east Antarctic during the LGM and shows clearly opposite regional trends during the climatic transition. Between Dome B and Dome C the timing of these changes is also different. A geographical diversity also arises from the different phasing of the short-term (multi-secular scale) dust size oscillations that are superposed at all sites on the main trends of glacial to interglacial changes. We hypothesize the dust grading is controlled by size fractionation inresponse to its atmospheric pathway, either in terms of horizontal trajectory or in altitude of transport. Such mechanism is supported also by the dust size changes observed during a volcanic event recorded in Vostok ice. Ice core dust size data suggest preferential upper air subsidence over the EDC-KMS region and easier penetration of relatively lower air masses to the DB area during the LGM. At the end of the last glacial period and during the climatic transition the region of relatively higher subsidence progressively moved southward. The scenario proposed, supported also by the LGM/Holocene regional changes of snow accumulation, likely operates even at sub-millennial time scale.