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The GISP2 δ18O Climate Record of the Past 16,500 Years and the Role of the Sun, Ocean, and Volcanoes

  • Minze Stuiver (a1), Pieter M. Grootes (a1) and Thomas F. Braziunas (a1)


Measured 18O/16O ratios from the Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 (GISP2) ice core extending back to 16,500 cal yr B.P. provide a continuous record of climate change since the last glaciation. High-resolution annual 18O/16O results were obtained for most of the current millennium (A.D. 818-1985) and record the Medieval Warm Period, the Little Ice Age, and a distinct 11-yr 18O/16O cycle. Volcanic aerosols depress central Greenland annual temperature (∼1.5°C maximally) and annual 18O/16O for about 4 yr after each major eruptive event. On a bidecadal to millennial time scale, the contribution of solar variability to Holocene Greenlandic temperature change is ∼0.4°C. The role of thermohaline circulation change on climate, problematic during the Holocene, is more distinct for the 16,500-10,000 cal yr B.P. interval. (Analogous to 14C age calibration terminology, we express time in calibrated (cal) yr B.P. (A.D. 1950 = 0 cal yr B.P.)). The Oldest Dryas/Bølling/Older Dryas/Allerød/Younger Dryas sequence appears in great detail. Bidecadal variance in 18O/16O, but not necessarily in temperature, is enhanced during the last phase of lateglacial time and the Younger Dryas interval, suggesting switches of air mass transport between jet stream branches. The branched system is nearly instantaneously replaced at the beginning of the Bølling and Holocene (at ∼14,670 and ∼11,650 cal yr B.P., respectively) by an atmospheric circulation system in which 18O/16O and annual accumulation initially track each other closely. Thermodynamic considerations of the accumulation rate-temperature relationship can be used to evaluate the 18 O/16O-temperature relationship. The GISP2 ice-layer-count years of major GISP2 climate transitions also support the use of coral 14C ages for age calibration.



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