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The Eem Stable Isotope Record along the GRIP Ice Core and Its Interpretation

  • Sigfus J. Johnsen (a1), Henrik B. Clausen (a1), Willi Dansgaard (a1), Niels S. Gundestrup (a1), Claus U. Hammer (a1) and Henrik Tauber (a1)...

A 3029-m-long deep ice core extending nearly to bedrock has been drilled at the very top of the Greenland ice sheet (Summit) by the Greenland Ice-core Project (GRIP), an international European joint effort organized by the European Science Foundation. The ice core reaches back to 250,000 yr B.P. according to dating based partly on stratigraphic methods and partly on ice-flow modeling. A continuous and detailed stable isotope (δ18O) profile along the entire core depicts dramatic temperature changes in Greenland through the last two glacial cycles, including abrupt climatic shifts during the Eem/Sangamon Interglaciation, which is elsewhere recorded as a warm and stable period. The stratigraphic continuity of the Eemian layers has therefore been scrutinized. New ice core studies, comprising cloudy band observations, deconvolution, and frequency analyses, lead to the conclusion that the climate instability suggested during the Eem Interglaciation in Greenland is likely to be real, though no conclusive evidence is available. Whereas latitudinal displacements of the North Atlantic Ocean current are considered the immediate cause of the glacial climate instability, longitudinal displacements may be the immediate cause of the Eemian instability. If so, the Eemian climate changes will be much subdued outside the Arctic region and will probably only be recognizable in sedimentary sequences of high sensitivity and temporal resolution.

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Quaternary Research
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  • EISSN: 1096-0287
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