Geophysical Research Letters

Little Ice Age cold interval in West Antarctica: Evidence from borehole temperature at the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide

Authors

  • Anais J. Orsi,

    Corresponding author
    1. Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA
      Corresponding author: A. J. Orsi, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla, CA 92037, USA. (aorsi@ucsd.edu)
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  • Bruce D. Cornuelle,

    1. Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA
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  • Jeffrey P. Severinghaus

    1. Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA
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Corresponding author: A. J. Orsi, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla, CA 92037, USA. (aorsi@ucsd.edu)

Abstract

[1] The largest climate anomaly of the last 1000 years in the Northern Hemisphere was the Little Ice Age (LIA) from 1400–1850 C.E., but little is known about the signature of this event in the Southern Hemisphere, especially in Antarctica. We present temperature data from a 300 m borehole at the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide. Results show that WAIS Divide was colder than the last 1000-year average from 1300 to 1800 C.E. The temperature in the time period 1400–1800 C.E. was on average 0.52 ± 0.28°C colder than the last 100-year average. This amplitude is about half of that seen at Greenland Summit (GRIP). This result is consistent with the idea that the LIA was a global event, probably caused by a change in solar and volcanic forcing, and was not simply a seesaw-type redistribution of heat between the hemispheres as would be predicted by some ocean-circulation hypotheses. The difference in the magnitude of the LIA between Greenland and West Antarctica suggests that the feedbacks amplifying the radiative forcing may not operate in the same way in both regions.

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