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Eclipse Ice Core Accumulation and Stable Isotope Variability as an Indicator of North Pacific Climate

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  • 1 Earth Systems Research Center, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire
  • | 2 Department of Geosciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon
  • | 3 Climate Change Institute, and Department of Earth Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, Maine
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Abstract

The high accumulation rate and negligible amount of melt at Eclipse Icefield (3017 m) in the Saint Elias Range of Yukon, Canada, allows for the preservation of a high-resolution isotopic and glaciochemical records valuable for reconstruction of climatic variables. Each of the three Eclipse ice cores have a well-constrained depth–age scale with dozens of reference horizons over the twentieth century that permits an exceptional level of confidence in the results of the current calibration exercise. Stacked time series of accumulation and stable isotopes were divided into cold and warm seasons and seasons of extreme high and extreme low accumulation and stable isotope values (eight groups). For each group, season-averaged composites of 500-hPa geopotential height grids, and the individual seasons that constitute them, were analyzed to elucidate common anomalous flow patterns.

This analysis shows that the most fractionated isotopes and lowest accumulation cold seasons reflect a more zonal height pattern in the North Pacific associated with negative Pacific–North American (PNA) and Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) indices. Conversely, the least fractionated isotopes and highest accumulation cold seasons are associated with a positive PNA pattern. Although only a maximum of approximately 20% of the total number of accumulation and stable isotope seasons exhibit a relatively consistent relationship with 500-hPa geopotential height patterns, these results support the hypothesis that the most extreme accumulation and extreme isotope cold-season values in the Saint Elias Mountains are related to consistent atmospheric circulation and oceanic sea surface temperature patterns.

Corresponding author address: Eric P. Kelsey, 8 College Rd., Morse Hall, Earth Systems Research Center, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824. E-mail: ekelsey@gust.sr.unh.edu

Abstract

The high accumulation rate and negligible amount of melt at Eclipse Icefield (3017 m) in the Saint Elias Range of Yukon, Canada, allows for the preservation of a high-resolution isotopic and glaciochemical records valuable for reconstruction of climatic variables. Each of the three Eclipse ice cores have a well-constrained depth–age scale with dozens of reference horizons over the twentieth century that permits an exceptional level of confidence in the results of the current calibration exercise. Stacked time series of accumulation and stable isotopes were divided into cold and warm seasons and seasons of extreme high and extreme low accumulation and stable isotope values (eight groups). For each group, season-averaged composites of 500-hPa geopotential height grids, and the individual seasons that constitute them, were analyzed to elucidate common anomalous flow patterns.

This analysis shows that the most fractionated isotopes and lowest accumulation cold seasons reflect a more zonal height pattern in the North Pacific associated with negative Pacific–North American (PNA) and Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) indices. Conversely, the least fractionated isotopes and highest accumulation cold seasons are associated with a positive PNA pattern. Although only a maximum of approximately 20% of the total number of accumulation and stable isotope seasons exhibit a relatively consistent relationship with 500-hPa geopotential height patterns, these results support the hypothesis that the most extreme accumulation and extreme isotope cold-season values in the Saint Elias Mountains are related to consistent atmospheric circulation and oceanic sea surface temperature patterns.

Corresponding author address: Eric P. Kelsey, 8 College Rd., Morse Hall, Earth Systems Research Center, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824. E-mail: ekelsey@gust.sr.unh.edu
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