A reinterpretation of sea-salt records in Greenland and Antarctic ice cores?
It has recently been shown that much sea-salt aerosol around the coast of Antarctica is generated not from open water, but from the surface of newly formed sea ice. Previous interpretations of ice-core records have disregarded the sea-ice surface as a source of sea salt. The majority of sea-salt aerosol at Halley research station originates from frost flowers rather than open water, and the seasonal cycle of sea salt in aerosol at Halley appears to be controlled by ice production in the Weddell Sea, as well as variations in wind speed. Frost flowers are also an important source of aerosol at Siple Dome, suggesting that variations in sea-salt concentrations in the core, and other cores drilled in similar locations, may be reflecting changes in sea-ice production rather than changes in transportation patterns. For Greenland cores, and those from low-accumulation inland sites in Antarctica, it is not simple to calculate the proportion of sea salt originating from frost flowers rather than open water. However, modelling studies suggest that a sea-ice surface source contributed much of the flux of sea salt to these sites in glacial periods, suggesting that interpretations of ice-core records from these locations should also be revisited.
Authors: Rankin, Andrew M., Wolff, Eric W., Mulvaney, Robert ORCID record for Robert Mulvaney