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Glacier advance in southern middle-latitudes during the Antarctic Cold Reversal


During the last deglaciation, warming over Antarctica was interrupted by a return to colder conditions from about 14,540 to 12,760 yr ago. This period, known as the Antarctic Cold Reversal, is well documented in Antarctic ice cores1, but the geographic extent of the cooling throughout the Southern Hemisphere remains unclear2. Here we use 10Be surface-exposure ages from two glacial moraine sets from the Southern Alps, New Zealand, to assess whether the glacier advance was associated with the Antarctic Cold Reversal. We find that widespread glacier resurgence culminated 13,000 years ago, at the peak of Antarctic cooling. Subsequent glacier retreat in the Southern Alps coincided with warming in Antarctica. We conclude that the climate deterioration associated with the Antarctic Cold Reversal extended into the southern mid-latitudes of the southwestern Pacific Ocean. We suggest that the extensive cooling was caused by northward migration of the southern Subtropical Front, and concomitant northward expansion of cold Southern Ocean waters.

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Figure 1: Detailed glacial geomorphic map of the Birch Hill right-lateral moraine complex.
Figure 2: Central Southern Alps about 13,000 yr ago.
Figure 3: Deglacial records mentioned in text.


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We thank the Gary C. Comer Science and Education Foundation and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration for support. D.J.A.B. was supported by Foundation for Research, Science and Technology contract CO5X0701. C.S. was supported by the Swiss National Fund proposal no. 200020-105220/1. This work was partially supported by National Science Foundation awards EAR-0746190 (to R.C.F.), 074571, 0936077, 0823521 (to M.R.K., J.M.S. and G.H.D.). We thank the staff of the Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for their devoted and meticulous work. R. F. Anderson, W. S. Broecker, R. B. Alley, J. D. Hays, G. R. M. Bromley, B. L. Hall, and U. Ninnemann contributed helpful insights. We thank B. Lemieux-Dudon for providing the most recent ice-core chronologies. H. and R. Ivey of Glentanner Station graciously allowed us access to the Birch Hill moraines. We thank the Department of Conservation—Te Papa Atawhai, te Rünanga o Ngäi Tahu for access to the Macaulay valley and inner Birch Hill moraines. This is LDEO contribution no. 7396.

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A.E.P. helped design the project, conducted field work and laboratory analyses, and wrote the paper. G.H.D., J.M.S. and C.S. helped design the project and participated in the field work. D.J.A.B. and B.G.A. conducted geomorphic mapping. R.S. carried out laboratory work. A.M.D. participated in the field work. R.C.F. conducted AMS analyses. G.H.D., D.J.A.B., J.M.S., M.R.K., and C.S. helped write the paper.

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Correspondence to Aaron E. Putnam.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Putnam, A., Denton, G., Schaefer, J. et al. Glacier advance in southern middle-latitudes during the Antarctic Cold Reversal. Nature Geosci 3, 700–704 (2010).

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