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Millennial-scale climate changes on South Georgia, Southern Ocean

  • Gunhild C. Rosqvist (a1) and Pernilla Schuber (a1)


The location of South Georgia (54°S, 36°W) makes it a suitable site for the study of the climatic connections between temperate and polar environments in the Southern Hemisphere. Because the mass balance of the small cirque glaciers on South Georgia primarily responds to changes in summer temperature they can provide records of changes in the South Atlantic Ocean and atmospheric circulation. We use grey scale density, weight-loss-on-ignition, and grain size analyses to show that the proportion of glacially eroded sediments to organic sediments in Block Lake was highly variable during the last 7400 cal yr B.P. We expect that the glacial signal is clearly detectable above noise originating from nonglacial processes and assume that an increase in glacigenic sediment deposition in Block Lake has followed Holocene glacier advances. We interpret proglacial lake sediment sequences in terms of summer climate warming and cooling events. Prominent millennial-scale features include cooling events between 7200 and 7000, 5200 and 4400, and 2400 and 1600 cal yr B.P. and after 1000 cal yr B.P. Comparison with other terrestrial and marine records reveals that the South Georgian record captures all the important changes in Southern Hemisphere Holocene climate. Our results reveal a tentative coupling between climate changes in the South Atlantic and North Atlantic because the documented temperature changes on South Georgia are anti-phased to those in the North Atlantic.


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