Understanding the climatic signal in the water stable isotope records from the NEEM shallow firn/ice cores in northwest Greenland



[1] Samples of precipitation and atmospheric water vapor were collected together with shallow firn/ice cores as part of the new deep drilling project in northwest Greenland: the NEEM project. These samples were analyzed for their isotope composition to understand the processes affecting the climatic signal archived in the water stable isotope records from the NEEM deep ice core. The dominant moisture source for the snow deposited at the NEEM-site may be originating as far south as 35°N from the western part of the Atlantic Ocean. The surface atmospheric water vapor appears in isotopic equilibrium with the snow surface indicating a large water exchange between the atmosphere and snowpack. The interannual variability of NEEM shallow firn/ice cores stable isotope data covering the last ∼40 years shows an unexpectedly weak NAO signal. Regional to global atmospheric models simulate a dominant summer precipitation in the NEEM area, suggesting that the intermittency of modern winter precipitation is responsible for the lack of a strong NAO imprint. The interannual variability of NEEM isotope data however shows a strong correlation with interannual variations of Baffin Bay sea ice cover, a relationship consistent with air mass trajectories. NEEM deep ice core isotopic records may therefore provide detailed information on past Baffin Bay sea ice extent. NEEM stable water isotope content increasing trend points to a local warming trend of ∼3.0°C over the last 40 years.