Improving ice core interpretation using in situ and reanalysis data
Back trajectory analysis, provided by the British Atmospheric Data Centre using meteorological parameters from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) reanalysis ERA-40 (1980-2001) and operational analysis (2002-2006), is used to investigate transport pathways and source regions of climate proxies preserved in a new ice core (Gomez) from the southwestern Antarctic Peninsula. The ECMWF data are compared with automatic weather station data and ice core annual accumulation records to demonstrate that the ECMWF data capture a large proportion of the annual and subseasonal precipitation variability at the site. The back trajectories reveal that precipitation preserved in the ice core accumulation record, and hence climate proxies contained therein, originate from the low-pressure systems from the Bellingshausen Sea transported via circumpolar westerly winds. Hence, precipitation-dependent ice core proxies, such as isotopic composition, will be influenced by both localized sea ice extent and large-scale circulation changes, such as the Southern Annular Mode. Sea ice proxies from the ice core are expected to be dominated by sea ice extent in the Bellingshausen Sea but also influenced by sea ice in the Weddell Sea, with a small proportion of air mass trajectories originating from this region during the summer. Comparison with other ice core sites reveals a stronger influence of easterly transport at more northerly locations, thus explaining the observed differences in snow accumulation records between ice cores and the poor correlation with instrumental records at these sites.