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Kate E. Sinclair, Nancy A. N. Bertler, and Tas D. van Ommen

Abstract

A 125-yr ice core record of climate from the Whitehall Glacier ice divide provides exceptionally high-resolution stable isotope data from the northwest margin of the Ross Sea, Antarctica. This is the only proxy data available to extend the instrumental record of temperature in this region, where little is known about climate variability over the past two centuries. Using ECMWF Interim Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim) data, this study develops a precipitation-weighted δ 18O-temperature transfer function of 0.62‰ °C−1, which is comparable to other proximal ice cores, such as Taylor, Talos, and Law Domes. Reconstructed mean annual temperatures show no significant change between 1882 and 2006. However, a decrease in cold season [April–September (AMJJAS)] temperatures of −1.59° ± 0.84°C decade−1 (at 90% confidence) is observed since 1979. This cooling trend is in contrast to a surface temperature record from Ross Island (Scott Base) where significant spring warming is observed. It is also coincident with a positive trend in the southern annular mode, which is linked to stronger southerly winds and increased sea ice extent and duration in the western Ross Sea.

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Tessa R. Vance, Tas D. van Ommen, Mark A. J. Curran, Chris T. Plummer, and Andrew D. Moy

Abstract

ENSO causes climate extremes across and beyond the Pacific basin; however, evidence of ENSO at high southern latitudes is generally restricted to the South Pacific and West Antarctica. Here, the authors report a statistically significant link between ENSO and sea salt deposition during summer from the Law Dome (LD) ice core in East Antarctica. ENSO-related atmospheric anomalies from the central-western equatorial Pacific (CWEP) propagate to the South Pacific and the circumpolar high latitudes. These anomalies modulate high-latitude zonal winds, with El Niño (La Niña) conditions causing reduced (enhanced) zonal wind speeds and subsequent reduced (enhanced) summer sea salt deposition at LD. Over the last 1010 yr, the LD summer sea salt (LDSSS) record has exhibited two below-average (El Niño–like) epochs, 1000–1260 ad and 1920–2009 ad, and a longer above-average (La Niña–like) epoch from 1260 to 1860 ad. Spectral analysis shows the below-average epochs are associated with enhanced ENSO-like variability around 2–5 yr, while the above-average epoch is associated more with variability around 6–7 yr. The LDSSS record is also significantly correlated with annual rainfall in eastern mainland Australia. While the correlation displays decadal-scale variability similar to changes in the interdecadal Pacific oscillation (IPO), the LDSSS record suggests rainfall in the modern instrumental era (1910–2009 ad) is below the long-term average. In addition, recent rainfall declines in some regions of eastern and southeastern Australia appear to be mirrored by a downward trend in the LDSSS record, suggesting current rainfall regimes are unusual though not unknown over the last millennium.

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Steven J. Phipps, Helen V. McGregor, Joëlle Gergis, Ailie J. E. Gallant, Raphael Neukom, Samantha Stevenson, Duncan Ackerley, Josephine R. Brown, Matt J. Fischer, and Tas D. van Ommen

Abstract

The past 1500 years provide a valuable opportunity to study the response of the climate system to external forcings. However, the integration of paleoclimate proxies with climate modeling is critical to improving the understanding of climate dynamics. In this paper, a climate system model and proxy records are therefore used to study the role of natural and anthropogenic forcings in driving the global climate. The inverse and forward approaches to paleoclimate data–model comparison are applied, and sources of uncertainty are identified and discussed. In the first of two case studies, the climate model simulations are compared with multiproxy temperature reconstructions. Robust solar and volcanic signals are detected in Southern Hemisphere temperatures, with a possible volcanic signal detected in the Northern Hemisphere. The anthropogenic signal dominates during the industrial period. It is also found that seasonal and geographical biases may cause multiproxy reconstructions to overestimate the magnitude of the long-term preindustrial cooling trend. In the second case study, the model simulations are compared with a coral δ 18O record from the central Pacific Ocean. It is found that greenhouse gases, solar irradiance, and volcanic eruptions all influence the mean state of the central Pacific, but there is no evidence that natural or anthropogenic forcings have any systematic impact on El Niño–Southern Oscillation. The proxy climate relationship is found to change over time, challenging the assumption of stationarity that underlies the interpretation of paleoclimate proxies. These case studies demonstrate the value of paleoclimate data–model comparison but also highlight the limitations of current techniques and demonstrate the need to develop alternative approaches.

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