Abstract

During the last glacial period, the North Atlantic region experienced a series of Dansgaard–Oeschger cycles in which climate abruptly alternated between warm and cold periods. Corresponding variations in Antarctic surface temperature were out of phase with their Northern Hemisphere counterparts. The temperature relationship between the hemispheres is commonly attributed to an interhemispheric redistribution of heat by the ocean overturning circulation. Changes in ocean heat transport should be accompanied by changes in atmospheric circulation to satisfy global energy budget constraints. Although changes in tropical atmospheric circulation linked to abrupt events in the Northern Hemisphere are well documented, evidence for predicted changes in the Southern Hemisphere’s atmospheric circulation during Dansgaard–Oeschger cycles is lacking. Here we use a high-resolution deuterium-excess record from West Antarctica to show that the latitude of the mean moisture source for Antarctic precipitation changed in phase with abrupt shifts in Northern Hemisphere climate, and significantly before Antarctic temperature change. This provides direct evidence that Southern Hemisphere mid-latitude storm tracks shifted within decades of abrupt changes in the North Atlantic, in parallel with meridional migrations of the intertropical convergence zone. We conclude that both oceanic and atmospheric processes, operating on different timescales, link the hemispheres during abrupt climate change.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1.

    et al. A new Greenland deep ice core. Science 218, 1273–1277 (1982).

  2. 2.

    & Subtropical North Atlantic temperatures 60,000 to 30,000 years ago. Science 286, 756–759 (1999).

  3. 3.

    & A minimum thermodynamic model for the bipolar seesaw. Paleoceanography 18, 1087 (2003).

  4. 4.

    et al. Asynchrony of Antarctic and Greenland climate change during the last glacial period. Nature 394, 739–743 (1998).

  5. 5.

    WAIS Divide Project Members. Precise interpolar phasing of abrupt climate change during the last ice age. Nature 520, 661–665 (2015).

  6. 6.

    , & The tropical response to extratropical thermal forcing in an idealized GCM: the importance of radiative feedbacks and convective parameterization. J. Atmos. Sci. 66, 2812–2827 (2009).

  7. 7.

    , & Response of the ITCZ to Northern Hemisphere cooling. Geophys. Res. Lett. 33, L01702 (2006).

  8. 8.

    , , , & The relationship between the ITCZ and the Southern Hemispheric eddy-driven jet. J. Geophys. Res. 118, 5136–5146 (2013).

  9. 9.

    , , & South Pacific Split Jet, ITCZ shifts, and atmospheric North–South linkages during abrupt climate changes of the last glacial period. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 406, 233–246 (2014).

  10. 10.

    & Closure of the meridional overturning circulation through Southern Ocean upwelling. Nat. Geosci. 5, 171–180 (2012).

  11. 11.

    et al. Wind-driven upwelling in the Southern Ocean and the deglacial rise in atmospheric CO2. Science 323, 1443–1448 (2009).

  12. 12.

    et al. Links between tropical rainfall and North Atlantic climate during the last glacial period. Nat. Geosci. 6, 213–217 (2013).

  13. 13.

    , , & Rapid changes in the hydrologic cycle of the tropical Atlantic during the last glacial. Science 290, 1947–1951 (2000).

  14. 14.

    et al. The spatial extent and dynamics of the Antarctic cold reversal. Nat. Geosci. 9, 51–55 (2016).

  15. 15.

    et al. Interhemispheric anti-phasing of rainfall during the last glacial period. Quat. Sci. Rev. 25, 3391–3403 (2006).

  16. 16.

    et al. Southern Hemisphere westerly wind changes during the Last glacial maximum: paleo-data synthesis. Quat. Sci. Rev. 68, 76–95 (2013).

  17. 17.

    & Global climatic interpretation of the deuterium-oxygen 18 relationship for precipitation. J. Geophys. Res. 84, 5029–5033 (1979).

  18. 18.

    et al. The deuterium excess records of EPICA Dome C and Dronning Maud Land ice cores (East Antarctica). Quat. Sci. Rev. 29, 146–159 (2010).

  19. 19.

    et al. Regional imprints of millennial variability during the MIS 3 period around Antarctica. Quat. Sci. Rev. 48, 99–112 (2012).

  20. 20.

    Isotopic variations in meteoric waters. Science (1961).

  21. 21.

    et al. Ranges of moisture-source temperature estimated from Antarctic ice cores stable isotope records over glacial–interglacial cycles. Clim. Past 8, 1109–1125 (2012).

  22. 22.

    et al. NGRIP CH4 concentration from 120 to 10 kyr before present and its relation to a δ15N temperature reconstruction from the same ice core. Clim. Past 10, 903–920 (2014).

  23. 23.

    et al. The WAIS divide deep ice core WD2014 chronology; Part 1: Methane synchronization (68–31 ka BP) and the gas age–ice age difference. Clim. Past 11, 153–173 (2015).

  24. 24.

    North Greenland Ice Core Project Members. High-resolution record of Northern Hemisphere climate extending into the last interglacial period. Nature 431, 147–151 (2004).

  25. 25.

    Ramp function regression: a tool for quantifying climate transitions. Comput. Geosci. 26, 293–307 (2000).

  26. 26.

    , , , & Long-term sea surface temperature and climate change in the Australian–New Zealand region. Paleoceanography 22, PA2215 (2007).

  27. 27.

    et al. Wet periods in northeastern Brazil over the past 210 kyr linked to distant climate anomalies. Nature 432, 740–743 (2004).

  28. 28.

    , & Water isotope expressions of intrinsic and forced variability in a coupled ocean-atmosphere model. J. Geophys. Res. 112, D10103 (2007).

  29. 29.

    et al. An optimized multi-proxy, multi-site Antarctic ice and gas orbital chronology (AICC2012): 120–800 ka. Clim. Past 9, 1715–1731 (2013).

  30. 30.

    GRIP deuterium excess reveals rapid and orbital-scale changes in Greenland moisture origin. Science 309, 118–121 (2005).

  31. 31.

    et al. Recent climate and ice-sheet changes in West Antarctica compared with the past 2,000 years. Nat. Geosci. 6, 372–375 (2013).

  32. 32.

    WAIS Divide Project Members. Onset of deglacial warming in West Antarctica driven by local orbital forcing. Nature 500, 440–444 (2013).

  33. 33.

    Break function regression. Eur. Phys. J. Spec. Top. 174, 49–63 (2009).

  34. 34.

    et al. High-resolution Greenland ice core data show abrupt climate change happens in few years. Science 321, 680–684 (2008).

  35. 35.

    & Antarctic temperature at orbital timescales controlled by local summer duration. Nat. Geosci. 1, 787–792 (2008).

  36. 36.

    & Characterization of millennial-scale climate variability. J. Clim. 17, 1929–1944 (2004).

  37. 37.

    Greenland–Antarctic phase relations and millennial time-scale climate fluctuations in the Greenland ice-cores. Quat. Sci. Rev. 22, 1631–1646 (2003).

  38. 38.

    , , , & Interpolation methods for Antarctic ice-core timescales: application to Byrd, Siple Dome and Law Dome ice cores. Clim. Past 10, 1195–1209 (2014).

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank A. J. Schauer and P. D. Neff for assistance with the measurements, E. J. Brook, V. Gkinis and H. C. Steen-Larsen for insightful discussions, and B. Stenni for sharing data. We acknowledge grants from the US National Science Foundation Division of Polar Programs (0537930, 1043092 to E.J.S.; 0537593, 1043167 to J.W.C.W.; 0538538, 1043500 to T.S.; 0944197 to T.J.F.; 1043518 to E. J. Brook; and 1341497 to C.M.B.). We acknowledge grants from NOAA Climate and Global Change postdoctoral fellowship program, administered by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (to C.B.); support from the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO Contribution no. 2462) and from a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship (to J.B.P.); NASA National Earth and Space Sciences Fellowship (to T.J.F.); and ARCS Foundation scholarship (to B.R.M.).

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195-1310, USA

    • Bradley R. Markle
    • , Eric J. Steig
    • , Spruce W. Schoenemann
    •  & T. J. Fudge
  2. Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195-1640, USA

    • Eric J. Steig
    •  & Cecilia M. Bitz
  3. College of Earth, Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331, USA

    • Christo Buizert
  4. Centre for Ice and Climate, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen DKK-2100, Denmark

    • Joel B. Pedro
  5. Department of Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93016, USA

    • Qinghua Ding
  6. Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309, USA

    • Tyler R. Jones
    •  & James W. C. White
  7. Department of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA

    • Todd Sowers

Authors

  1. Search for Bradley R. Markle in:

  2. Search for Eric J. Steig in:

  3. Search for Christo Buizert in:

  4. Search for Spruce W. Schoenemann in:

  5. Search for Cecilia M. Bitz in:

  6. Search for T. J. Fudge in:

  7. Search for Joel B. Pedro in:

  8. Search for Qinghua Ding in:

  9. Search for Tyler R. Jones in:

  10. Search for James W. C. White in:

  11. Search for Todd Sowers in:

Contributions

B.R.M. and E.J.S. wrote the paper and conducted data analysis with assistance from C.B. and J.B.P.  Q.D. and C.M.B. provided climate model output. B.R.M., E.J.S. and S.W.S. produced the water-isotope data with T.R.J. and J.W.C.W.  T.S. provided the CH4 data. All authors contributed to the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Bradley R. Markle.

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Information

About this article

Publication history

Received

Accepted

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo2848

Further reading