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A stable isotope record extending back to 1795 is now available from Dolleman Island (70°35.2′S, 60°55.5′W), a small ice rise on the Weddell Sea coast of Antarctic Peninsula. An accurate chronology has been achieved by combined stratigraphic analysis of clear seasonal cycles in δ18O and excess SO4. Previous work (Peel and others, 1988) has shown that, since 1947, there is generally a satisfactory correlation between interannual variations in δ18O and air temperature (T) as recorded at weather stations in various parts of the region, suggesting that the derived δ18O/T ratio may be used to reconstruct air temperatures for the earlier period.
Taken together with previously-reported data (Aristarain and others, 1986) for an ice core from James Ross Island it is now possible to propose a regional climatic signal for the Weddell Sea coastal sector of the region. The most striking feature is a broad maximum in δ18O for the mid-19th century, implying decadal average temperature at least as high as the present. This contrasts with available evidence from elsewhere in the southern hemisphere which suggest that this period was cooler than today. Tentative explanations for the anomaly are proposed based on evidence for a period (1974–80), where climatic shifts are clearly amplified in the isotopic records.