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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-121
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 04 Jul 2018

Research article | 04 Jul 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

Challenges associated with the climatic interpretation of water stable isotope records from a highly resolved firn core from Adélie Land, coastal Antarctica

Sentia Goursaud1,2, Valérie Masson-Delmotte1, Vincent Favier2,3, Suzanne Preunkert2,3, Michel Legrand2,3, Bénédicte Minster1, and Martin Werner4 Sentia Goursaud et al.
  • 1LSCE (UMR CEA-CNRS-UVSQ 8212-IPSL), Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 2Univ. Grenoble Alpes, Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l'Environnement (LGGE), 38041 Grenoble, France
  • 3CNRS, Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l'Environnement (LGGE), 38041 Grenoble, France
  • 4Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany

Abstract. A new 21.3m firn core was drilled in 2015 at a coastal Antarctic high accumulation site in Adélie Land (66.78°S; 139.56°E, 602ma.s.l.). The core was dated by annual layers counting based on non-sea-salt sulfate and methanesulfonate summer peaks, refined by a comparison between the reconstructed surface mass balance (hereafter, SMB) and the closest available stake data. The mean reconstructed SMB of 75.2 ± 15.0cmw.e. y−1 is consistent with local stake data, and remarkably high for coastal East Antarctica. The resulting inter-annual and sub-annual variations in isotopic records (δ18O and deuterium excess, hereafter d-excess) are explored for 1998–2014 and are systematically compared with a couple of climatic time series: an updated database of Antarctic surface snow isotopic composition, SMB stake data, meteorological observations from Dumont d'Urville station, sea-ice concentration based on passive microwave satellite data, precipitation outputs of atmospheric reanalyses, climate and water stable isotope outputs from the atmospheric general circulation model ECHAM5-wiso, as well as air mass origins diagnosed using 5-days back-trajectories.

The mean isotopic values (−19.3 ± 3.1‰ for δ18O and 5.4 ± 2.2‰ for d-excess) are consistent with other coastal Antarctic values. No significant isotope-temperature relationship can be evidenced at any timescale, ruling out a simple interpretation of in terms of local temperature. An observed asymmetry in the δ18O seasonal cycle may be explained by the precipitation of air masses coming from Indian and Pacific/West Antarctic Ice Sheet sectors in autumn and winter times, recorded in the d-excess signal showing outstanding values in austral spring versus autumn. Significant positive trends are observed in the annual d-excess record and local sea-ice extent (135°E–145°E) over the period 1998–2014.

However, processes studies focusing on resulting isotopic compositions and particularly the d-excess-δ18O relationship, evidenced as a potential fingerprint of moisture origins, as well as the collection of more isotopic measurements in Adélie Land are needed for an accurate interpretation of our signals.

Sentia Goursaud et al.
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Short summary
We report new water stable isotope records from the first highly resolved firn core drilled in Adélie Land and covering the period 1998–2014. Using an updated database, we show that mean values are in line with the range of coastal values. Statistical analyses show no relationship between our record and local surface air temperature. Atmospheric back-trajectories and isotopic simulations suggest that water stable isotopes in Adélie provide fingerprint of the variability of atmospheric dynamics.
We report new water stable isotope records from the first highly resolved firn core drilled in...
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