Bipolar volcanic synchronization of abrupt climate change in Greenland and Antarctic ice cores during the last glacial period - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Journal Articles Climate of the Past Year : 2020

Bipolar volcanic synchronization of abrupt climate change in Greenland and Antarctic ice cores during the last glacial period

Anders Svensson
Dorthe Dahl-Jensen
  • Function : Author
Jørgen Peder Steffensen
  • Function : Author
Thomas Blunier
Sune Rasmussen
  • Function : Author
Bo Vinther
  • Function : Author
Paul Vallelonga
  • Function : Author
Emilie Capron
  • Function : Author
Vasileios Gkinis
  • Function : Author
Eliza Cook
  • Function : Author
Helle Astrid Kjær
  • Function : Author
Raimund Muscheler
  • Function : Author
Sepp Kipfstuhl
  • Function : Author
Frank Wilhelms
  • Function : Author
Thomas Stocker
  • Function : Author
Hubertus Fischer
Florian Adolphi
  • Function : Author
Tobias Erhardt
  • Function : Author
Michael Sigl
Christo Buizert
Joseph Mcconnell
Mirko Severi
Robert Mulvaney
Matthias Bigler
  • Function : Author


The last glacial period is characterized by a number of millennial climate events that have been identified in both Greenland and Antarctic ice cores and that are abrupt in Greenland climate records. The mechanisms governing this climate variability remain a puzzle that requires a precise synchronization of ice cores from the two hemispheres to be resolved. Previously, Greenland and Antarctic ice cores have been synchronized primarily via their common records of gas concentrations or isotopes from the trapped air and via cosmogenic isotopes measured on the ice. In this work, we apply ice core volcanic proxies and annual layer counting to identify large volcanic eruptions that have left a signature in both Greenland and Antarctica. Generally, no tephra is associated with those eruptions in the ice cores, so the source of the eruptions cannot be identified. Instead, we identify and match sequences of volcanic eruptions with bipolar distribution of sulfate, i.e. unique patterns of volcanic events separated by the same number of years at the two poles. Using this approach, we pinpoint 82 large bipolar volcanic eruptions throughout the second half of the last glacial period (12–60 ka). This improved ice core synchronization is applied to determine the bipolar phasing of abrupt climate change events at decadal-scale precision. In response to Greenland abrupt climatic transitions, we find a response in the Antarctic water isotope signals (δ18O and deuterium excess) that is both more immediate and more abrupt than that found with previous gas-based interpolar synchronizations, providing additional support for our volcanic framework. On average, the Antarctic bipolar seesaw climate response lags the midpoint of Greenland abrupt δ18O transitions by 122±24 years. The time difference between Antarctic signals in deuterium excess and δ18O, which likewise informs the time needed to propagate the signal as described by the theory of the bipolar seesaw but is less sensitive to synchronization errors, suggests an Antarctic δ18O lag behind Greenland of 152±37 years. These estimates are shorter than the 200 years suggested by earlier gas-based synchronizations. As before, we find variations in the timing and duration between the response at different sites and for different events suggesting an interaction of oceanic and atmospheric teleconnection patterns as well as internal climate variability.
Fichier principal
Vignette du fichier
cp-16-1565-2020.pdf (3.29 Mo) Télécharger le fichier
Origin : Publisher files allowed on an open archive

Dates and versions

hal-03081121 , version 1 (18-12-2020)



Anders Svensson, Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, Jørgen Peder Steffensen, Thomas Blunier, Sune Rasmussen, et al.. Bipolar volcanic synchronization of abrupt climate change in Greenland and Antarctic ice cores during the last glacial period. Climate of the Past, 2020, 16 (4), pp.1565-1580. ⟨10.5194/cp-16-1565-2020⟩. ⟨hal-03081121⟩
169 View
30 Download



Gmail Facebook X LinkedIn More