Reconstructing Antarctic winter sea-ice extent during Marine Isotope Stage 5e
Environmental conditions during Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5e (130–116 ka) represent an important “process analogue” for understanding the climatic responses to present and future anthropogenic warming. The response of Antarctic sea ice to global warming is particularly uncertain due to the short length of the observational record. Reconstructing Antarctic winter sea-ice extent during MIS 5e therefore provides insights into the temporal and spatial patterns of sea-ice change under a warmer-than-present climate. This study presents new MIS 5e records from nine marine sediment cores located south of the Antarctic Polar Front between 55 and 70∘ S. Winter sea-ice extent and sea-surface temperatures are reconstructed using marine diatom assemblages and a modern analogue technique transfer function, and changes in these environmental variables between the three Southern Ocean sectors are investigated. The Atlantic and East Indian sector records show much more variable MIS 5e winter sea-ice extent and sea-surface temperatures than the Pacific sector records. High variability in the Atlantic sector winter sea-ice extent is attributed to high glacial meltwater flux in the Weddell Sea, indicated by increased abundances of the diatom species Eucampia antarctica and Fragilariopsis cylindrus. The high variability in the East Indian sector winter sea-ice extent is conversely believed to result from large latitudinal migrations of the flow bands of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, inferred from latitudinal shifts in the sea-surface temperature isotherms. Overall, these findings suggest that Pacific sector winter sea ice displays a low sensitivity to warmer climates. The different variability and sensitivity of Antarctic winter sea-ice extent in the three Southern Ocean sectors during MIS 5e may have significant implications for the Southern Hemisphere climatic system under future warming.
Authors: Chadwick, Matthew ORCID record for Matthew Chadwick, Allen, Claire S. ORCID record for Claire S. Allen, Sime, Louise C. ORCID record for Louise C. Sime, Crosta, Xavier, Hillenbrand, Claus-Dieter ORCID record for Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand