Ice sheet record of recent sea-ice behavior and polynya variability in the Amundsen Sea, West Antarctica

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Criscitiello, Alison S.
Das, Sarah B.
Evans, Matthew J.
Frey, Karen E.
Conway, Howard
Joughin, Ian
Medley, Brooke
Steig, Eric J.
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Sea ice
Amundsen Sea
Pine Island Bay
Methanesulfonic acid
Our understanding of past sea-ice variability is limited by the short length of satellite and instrumental records. Proxy records can extend these observations but require further development and validation. We compare methanesulfonic acid (MSA) and chloride (Cl–) concentrations from a new firn core from coastal West Antarctica with satellite-derived observations of regional sea-ice concentration (SIC) in the Amundsen Sea (AS) to evaluate spatial and temporal correlations from 2002–2010. The high accumulation rate (~39 g∙cm–2∙yr–1) provides monthly resolved records of MSA and Cl–, allowing detailed investigation of how regional SIC is recorded in the ice-sheet stratigraphy. Over the period 2002–2010 we find that the ice-sheet chemistry is significantly correlated with SIC variability within the AS and Pine Island Bay polynyas. Based on this result, we evaluate the use of ice-core chemistry as a proxy for interannual polynya variability in this region, one of the largest and most persistent polynya areas in Antarctica. MSA concentrations correlate strongly with summer SIC within the polynya regions, consistent with MSA at this site being derived from marine biological productivity during the spring and summer. Cl– concentrations correlate strongly with winter SIC within the polynyas as well as some regions outside the polynyas, consistent with Cl– at this site originating primarily from winter sea-ice formation. Spatial correlations were generally insignificant outside of the polynya areas, with some notable exceptions. Ice-core glaciochemical records from this dynamic region thus may provide a proxy for reconstructing AS and Pine Island Bay polynya variability prior to the satellite era.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2013. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research 118 (2013): 118–130, doi:10.1029/2012JC008077.
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Journal of Geophysical Research 118 (2013): 118–130
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