Sciences in Cold and Arid Regions ›› 2019, Vol. 11 ›› Issue (1): 50-61.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1226.2019.00050

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Accumulation and geochemical evidence for the Little Ice Age episode in eastern Antarctica

ChuanJin Li1,*(),JiaWen Ren1,CunDe Xiao1,2,MingHu Ding1,3,AiHong Xie1,ZhiHeng Du1,XiangYu Ma1,DaHe Qin1   

  1. 1. State Key Laboratory of the Cryospheric Science, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, China
    2. State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    3. Institute of Climate System (Polar Meteorology), Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing 100081, China
  • Received:2018-05-16 Accepted:2018-12-17 Online:2019-02-01 Published:2019-03-22
  • Contact: ChuanJin Li
  • About author:ChuanJin Li, State Key Laboratory of the Cryospheric Science, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, China.


Data on accumulation and concentration of chemical compounds recorded in an essentially unexplored area (Dome Argus) of the Indian Ocean sector of eastern Antarctica during the past 2,680 years (680 B.C. to 1999 A.D.) are presented. During the first 1,700 years (680 B.C. to 1000 A.D.), the accumulation data shows a slightly decreasing trend, while chemical ions appear to be stable, representing a stable climatic condition. An intensive increasing trend of the accumulation occurred during the 12th to 14th century. The period from 15th to 19th century was characterized by a rapid reducing accumulation and concentrations of volatile compounds suffering post-depositional loss linked to sparse precipitation amount, which was temporally consistent with the Little Ice Age (LIA) episode. Comparison between observed accumulation rates with other eastern Antarctic ice cores show a consistent decreasing trend during LIA, while sea salt and dust-originated ions increased due to sea ice extent and intensified atmospheric transportation. Distribution of volcanic originated sulfate over the Antarctic continent show a significant change during the 15th century, coincident with the onset of the LIA. These results are important for the assessment of Antarctic continent mass balance and associated interpretation of the Dome A deep ice core records.

Key words: accumulation rates, sea salt, chemical compounds, Little Ice Age, eastern Antarctica

Figure 1

Location of the DT-401 ice core site and other ice core sites in East Antarctica (solid dots), also the CHINARE expedition route from Zhongshan Station to Dome A (dashed line)"

Figure 2

Variations in accumulation rate in the DT-401 ice core during the past 2,680 years. The gray dots represent the 10-year mean values, and solid black line represents the 30-year average values. The dashed line in the middle indicates the mean value (0.031 m H2O/a) for the period"

Figure 3

Accumulation rates between volcanic events (Unknown 1259 A.D., Kuwae 1454 A.D., Unknown 1809 A.D., Tambora 1815 A.D., Krakatoa 1883 A.D. and Agung 1963 A.D.) for five ice core locations in eastern Antarctica. Ice core locations are PR-B (red), DML (Blue), DT-401 (brown), Dome A (green) and DT263 (black)"

Table 1

Temporal variation of the average concentrations of sodium, magnesium, nss calcium, chloride, nss sulfate, non-volcanic nss sulfate, EOF1 and accumulation rates in DT-401 ice core"

Time compounds 680 B.C. to 900 A.D. 901A.D. to 1450 A.D. 1451A.D. to 1850 A.D. 1851A.D. to 1999 A.D.
Na+ (ng/g) 17.8±10.7 18.1±10.2 24.9±15.4 26.7±16.4
Mg2+ (ng/g) 3.7±2.3 3.5±2.2 4.1±2.4 3.9±2.4
Ca2+ (ng/g) 31.4±16.6 26.4±15.2 34.7±26.2 46.6±36.3
Cl? (ng/g) 38.2±11.9 38.9±9.6 35.1±13.6 33.3±20.1
nssSO 4 2 - (ng/g) 79.5±36.2 86.0±62.8 89.1±32.6 85.2±25.2
Non volcanic nssSO 4 2 - (ng/g) 70.0±16.9 71.9±15.6 79.5±26.7 81.0±36.9
EOF1 0.01±0.83 -0.27±0.74 0.05±1.29 0.67±1.79
Accumulation (kg/(m?a)) 0.031±0.004 0.034±0.008 0.027±0.005 0.025±0.006
Na 1,580/158 550/55 400/40 150/15

Figure 4

Temporal variation of the concentrations of (a) Na+, (b) Cl?, (c) Mg2+, (d) Ca2+, (e) nss SO 4 2 - and (f) δ18O. Thick lines represent 30-year smoothed data"

Figure 5

(a) The ratios between fluxes of events recorded in ten Antarctic ice cores and Tambora (used as reference event) are reported against age for the last millennium. (b) The standard deviation for the considered events is indicated. References are reported in the text"

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