Ice core records as sea ice proxies: An evaluation from the Weddell Sea region of Antarctica

Ice core records of methanesulfonic acid (MSA) from three sites around the Weddell Sea are investigated for their potential as sea ice proxies. It is found that the amount of MSA reaching the ice core sites decreases following years of increased winter sea ice in the Weddell Sea; opposite to the expected relationship if MSA is to be used as a sea ice proxy. It is also shown that this negative MSA-sea ice relationship cannot be explained by the influence that the extensive summer ice pack in the Weddell Sea has on MSA production area and transport distance. A historical record of sea ice from the northern Weddell Sea shows that the negative relationship between MSA and winter sea ice exists over interannual (7-year period) and multidecadal (20-year period) timescales. National Centers for Environmental Prediction/National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCEP/NCAR) reanalysis data suggest that this negative relationship is most likely due to variations in the strength of cold offshore wind anomalies traveling across the Weddell Sea, which act to synergistically increase sea ice extent (SIE) while decreasing MSA delivery to the ice core sites. Hence our findings show that in some locations atmospheric transport strength, rather than sea ice conditions, is the dominant factor that determines the MSA signal preserved in near-coastal ice cores. A cautious approach is thus required in using ice core MSA for reconstructing past sea ice conditions, including the need for networks of ice core records and multiproxy studies to assess the significance of past MSA changes at different locations around Antarctica.


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Authors: Abram, Nerilie J, Mulvaney, Robert ORCIDORCID record for Robert Mulvaney, Wolff, Eric W., Mudelsee, Manfred

On this site: Eric Wolff, Robert Mulvaney
1 January, 2007
Journal of Geophysical Research / 112
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