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Spatial variability of Antarctic surface snow glaciochemistry: implications for palaeoatmospheric circulation reconstructions

  • Karl J. Kreutz (a1) (a2) and Paul A. Mayewski (a1)

Ice core glaciochemical records provide detailed information on past changes in atmospheric chemical composition and circulation, which is essential for understanding the timing and phasing of climatic change in different regions. Atmospheric circulation reconstructions based on these records require knowledge of modern chemical concentration controls (chemical source, transport pathway and strength) and spatial variability. To gain insight into these processes, glaciochemical data collected during reconnaissance drilling in West Antarctica combined with all other existing Antarctic surface snow glaciochemical records are examined for trends in chemical concentration vs distance inland, elevation, and accumulation rate. Snowpit data from inland West Antarctica displays significant spatial variability, suggesting complex patterns of atmospheric circulation and moisture transport in the region. Siple Dome sea-salt and methanesulphonic acid (MSA) concentrations are similar to coastal sites, suggesting enhanced advection of marine air masses to the site. Statistical analysis of a 110-year high-resolution Siple Dome ice core record confirms that strong lower tropospheric circulation dominates the region, which is most likely related to the strength of the Amundsen Sea low pressure system. An atmospheric circulation reconstruction based on the ice core glaciochemical data displays significant interannual and decadal-scale variability, but there is no overall trend in atmospheric circulation strength at Siple Dome in the past 110 years.

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Antarctic Science
  • ISSN: 0954-1020
  • EISSN: 1365-2079
  • URL: /core/journals/antarctic-science
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