Stable-isotope/air-temperature relationships in ice cores from Dolleman Island and the Palmer Land plateau, Antarctic Peninsula
Whilst stable-isotope analysis of ice cores yields the best quantitative evidence for past climate, there remains considerable uncertainty about the detailed relationship between the isotopic composition and air temperature. Analysis of two ice cores from the Antarctic Peninsula (a 47.2 m core from the Palmer Land plateau – 74°01’S, 70°38’W, and a 32 m core from Dolleman Island–70°35.2’S, 60°55.5’W) has shown that an oxygen-isotope/ temperature relationship exists at a resolution of inter-annual variations during the period 1938–86. All the major regional temperature anomalies, known from climatic records at several stations, are visible in the isotope profiles, including the overall temperature increase between 1960 and 1980.An isotope–temperature gradient of 0.5–0.6‰/°C is indicated for the climatic interpretation of isotopic fluctuations in ice cores recovered from the region. This gradient is considerably smaller than that (0.95‰/°C) obtained from a comparison of spatial variations in the mean annual parameters. The discrepancy appears to be due mainly to an inherent biasing in the isotope profiles, which record temperature only during periods of snowfall. The effect is particularly severe in the winter months and can be expected in other areas of Antarctica where a significant part of the snow accumulation is cyclonic.
Authors: Peel, David A., Mulvaney, Robert, Davison, Brian M.