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Ice core evidence for secular variability and 200-year dipolar oscillations in atmospheric circulation over East Antarctica during the Holocene

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Abstract

Two Holocene ice core records from East Antarctica (Vostok and EPICA-Dome C) were analysed for dust concentration and size distribution at a temporal resolution of 1 sample per ~50 years. A series of volcanic markers randomly distributed over the common part of the ice cores (from 9.8 to 3.5 kyear BP) ensures accurate relative dating (±33 years). Dust-size records from the two sites display oscillations structured in cycles with sub-millennial and secular scale frequencies that are apparently asynchronous. The power spectra of the composite sum (Σ) of the two dust-size records display spectral energy mostly for 150- to 500-year periodicities. On the other hand, the 200-year band is common to both records and the 200 year components of the two sites are out-of-phase (100-year lead or lag) over ~5.5 kyear, a phenomenon also reflected by a significant (>99% conf. lev.) band in the power spectra of the composite difference (Δ) of the two size records. During long-range transport, mineral dust originating from the Southern Hemisphere continents is graded to a variable extent depending on the altitude and duration of atmospheric transport. Relatively coarse dust is associated with air mass penetration from the middle–lower troposphere and conversely relatively fine dust with upper troposphere air masses or the influence of subsidence over the Antarctic plateau, a hypothesis already proposed for the changes that occurred during the Last Glacial Maximum to Holocene transition (Delmonte et al. 2004b). Moreover, we assume that the overall fluctuation of air mass advection over Antarctica depends on the meridional pressure gradient with respect to low latitudes, i.e. the Antarctic Oscillation (AAO). We therefore suggest a regional variability in atmospheric circulation over East Antarctica. The 150–500 year power spectrum of the composite (Σ) parameter represents the long term variability of the AAO, imprinted by secular internal oscillations probably related to the southern ocean-climatic system. On the other hand, the Δ dust composite parameter suggests a persistent atmospheric dipole over East Antarctica delivering coarser (finer) dust particles alternatively to Vostok and Dome C regions with a bi-centennial periodicity. Indeed, a seesaw phenomenon in dust size distribution was already observed at three East Antarctic sites during the last deglaciation (Delmonte et al. 2004b) and was interpreted as a progressive reduction of the eccentricity of the polar vortex with respect to the geographic south pole. Interestingly, the Δ parameter shows a pronounced 200-year oscillation mode, throwing new light on the unresolved question of a possible relationship between climate and solar activity.

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Acknowledgements

The work of B. Delmonte was supported by a 2003 Prince of Asturias Fellowship awarded by the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR) and benefited from a BALZAN donation to C. Lorius. We thank the three anonymous referees for their useful suggestions. The Vostok ice (BH7 and 8) core was obtained through the Russia-US-France tripartite collaboration and benefited from the support of Russian Antarctic Expeditions, the US National Foundation and the French Paul Emile Victor Institute (IPEV). This work is a contribution to the “European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica” (EPICA), a joint ESF (European Science Foundation)/EC scientific programme, funded by the European Commission under the Environmental and Climate Programme (1994–1998) contract ENV4-CT95–0074 and by national contributions from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

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Delmonte, B., Petit, J.R., Krinner, G. et al. Ice core evidence for secular variability and 200-year dipolar oscillations in atmospheric circulation over East Antarctica during the Holocene. Climate Dynamics 24, 641–654 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-005-0012-9

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