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Last glacial–interglacial sea-ice cover in the SW Atlantic and its potential role in global deglaciation

Allen, Claire S., Pike, Jennifer ORCID: and Pudsey, Carol J. 2011. Last glacial–interglacial sea-ice cover in the SW Atlantic and its potential role in global deglaciation. Quaternary Science Reviews 30 (19-20) , pp. 2446-2458. 10.1016/j.quascirev.2011.04.002

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Sea-ice growth and decay in Antarctica is one of the biggest seasonal changes on Earth, expanding ice cover from 4 × 106 km2 to a maximum of 19 × 106 km2 during the austral winter. Analyses of six marine sediment cores from the Scotia Sea, SW Atlantic, yield records of sea-ice migration across the basin since the Lateglacial. The cores span nearly ten degrees of latitude from the modern seasonal sea-ice zone to the modern Polar Front. Surface sediments in the cores comprise predominantly diatomaceous oozes and muddy diatom oozes that reflect Holocene conditions. The cores exhibit similar down-core stratigraphies with decreasing diatom concentrations and increasing magnetic susceptibility from modern through to the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Sediments in all cores contain sea-ice diatoms that preserve a signal of changing sea-ice cover and permit reconstruction of past sea-ice dynamics. The sea-ice records presented here are the first to document the position of both the summer and winter sea-ice cover at the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) in the Scotia Sea. Comparison of the LGM and Holocene sea-ice conditions shows that the average winter sea-ice extent was at least 5° further north at the LGM. Average summer sea-ice extent was south of the most southerly core site at the LGM, and suggests that sea-ice expanded from approximately ∼61°S to ∼52°S each season. Our data also suggest that the average summer sea-ice position at the LGM was not the maximum extent of summer sea-ice during the last glacial. Instead, the sediments contain evidence of a pre-LGM maximum extent of summer sea-ice between ∼30 ka and 22 ka that extended to ∼59°S, close to the modern average winter sea-ice limit. Based on our reconstruction we propose that the timing of the maximum extent of summer sea-ice and subsequent retreat by 22 ka, could be insolation controlled and that the strong links between sea-ice and bottom water formation provide a potential mechanism by which Southern Hemisphere regional sea-ice dynamics at the LGM could have a global impact and promote deglaciation.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QE Geology
Uncontrolled Keywords: Southern Ocean; Sea-ice; Late Quaternary; Diatom; Climate change
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0277-3791
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2022 12:20

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