Preliminary evidence for the role played by south westerly wind strength on the marine diatom content of an Antarctic Peninsula ice core (1980–2010)

Winds in the Southern Ocean drive exchanges of heat and carbon dioxide between the ocean and atmosphere. Wind dynamics also explain the dominant patterns of both basal and surface melting of glaciers and ice shelves in the Amundsen and Bellingshausen Seas. Long records of past wind strength and atmospheric circulation are needed to assess the significance of these recent changes. Here we present evidence for a novel proxy of past south westerly wind (SWW) strength over the Amundsen and Bellingshausen Seas, based on diatoms preserved in an Antarctic Peninsula ice core. Ecological affinities of the identified diatom taxa indicate an almost exclusively marine assemblage, dominated by open ocean taxa from the Northern Antarctic Zone (NAZ). Backtrajectory analysis shows the routes of air masses reaching the ice core site and reveals that many trajectories involve contact with surface waters in the NAZ of the Amundsen and Bellingshausen Seas. Correlation analyses between ice core diatom abundance and various wind vectors yield positive and robust coefficients for the 1980–2010 period, with average annual SWW speeds exhibiting the strongest match. Collectively, the data presented here provide new evidence that diatoms preserved in an Antarctic Peninsula ice core offer genuine potential as a new proxy for SWW strength.


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Authors: Allen, Claire ORCIDORCID record for Claire Allen, Thomas, Elizabeth R. ORCIDORCID record for Elizabeth R. Thomas, Blagbrough, Hilary ORCIDORCID record for Hilary Blagbrough, Tetzner, Dieter ORCIDORCID record for Dieter Tetzner, Warren, Richard A., Ludlow, Emily C., Bracegirdle, Thomas J. ORCIDORCID record for Thomas J. Bracegirdle

On this site: Claire Allen, Dieter Tetzner, Emily Ludlow, Hilary Blagbrough, Liz Thomas, Richard Warren, Thomas Bracegirdle
26 February, 2020
Geosciences / 10
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