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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 28, 2022
  2. Abstract. Volcanic eruptions are a key source of climatic variability, andreconstructing their past impact can improve our understanding of theoperation of the climate system and increase the accuracy of future climateprojections. Two annually resolved and independently dated palaeoarchives –tree rings and polar ice cores – can be used in tandem to assess thetiming, strength and climatic impact of volcanic eruptions over the past∼ 2500 years. The quantification of post-volcanic climateresponses, however, has at times been hampered by differences betweensimulated and observed temperature responses that raised questions regardingthe robustness of the chronologies of both archives. While manychronological mismatches have been resolved, the precisemore »timing and climaticimpact of two major sulfate-emitting volcanic eruptions during the 1450s CE, including the largest atmospheric sulfate-loading event in the last 700 years, have not been constrained. Here we explore this issue through acombination of tephrochronological evidence and high-resolution ice-corechemistry measurements from a Greenland ice core, the TUNU2013 record. We identify tephra from the historically dated 1477 CE eruption of theIcelandic Veiðivötn–Bárðarbunga volcanic system in directassociation with a notable sulfate peak in TUNU2013 attributed to thisevent, confirming that this peak can be used as a reliable and precisetime marker. Using seasonal cycles in several chemical elements and 1477 CEas a fixed chronological point shows that ages of 1453 CE and 1458 CE can beattributed, with high precision, to the start of two other notablesulfate peaks. This confirms the accuracy of a recent Greenland ice-corechronology over the middle to late 15th century and corroborates thefindings of recent volcanic reconstructions from Greenland and Antarctica.Overall, this implies that large-scale Northern Hemisphere climatic coolingaffecting tree-ring growth in 1453 CE was caused by a Northern Hemispherevolcanic eruption in 1452 or early 1453 CE, and then a Southern Hemisphereeruption, previously assumed to have triggered the cooling, occurred laterin 1457 or 1458 CE. The direct attribution of the 1477 CE sulfate peak to the eruption ofVeiðivötn, one of the most explosive from Iceland in the last 1200 years, also provides the opportunity to assess the eruption's climaticimpact. A tree-ring-based reconstruction of Northern Hemisphere summertemperatures shows a cooling in the aftermath of the eruption of −0.35 ∘C relative to a 1961–1990 CE reference period and−0.1 ∘C relative to the 30-year period around the event, as well as arelatively weak and spatially incoherent climatic response in comparison tothe less explosive but longer-lasting Icelandic Eldgjá 939 CE and Laki1783 CE eruptions. In addition, the Veiðivötn 1477 CE eruptionoccurred around the inception of the Little Ice Age and could be used as achronostratigraphic marker to constrain the phasing and spatial variabilityof climate changes over this transition if it can be traced in moreregional palaeoclimatic archives.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2022
  3. The assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BCE triggered a power struggle that ultimately ended the Roman Republic and, eventually, the Ptolemaic Kingdom, leading to the rise of the Roman Empire. Climate proxies and written documents indicate that this struggle occurred during a period of unusually inclement weather, famine, and disease in the Mediterranean region; historians have previously speculated that a large volcanic eruption of unknown origin was the most likely cause. Here we show using well-dated volcanic fallout records in six Arctic ice cores that one of the largest volcanic eruptions of the past 2,500 y occurred in earlymore »43 BCE, with distinct geochemistry of tephra deposited during the event identifying the Okmok volcano in Alaska as the source. Climate proxy records show that 43 and 42 BCE were among the coldest years of recent millennia in the Northern Hemisphere at the start of one of the coldest decades. Earth system modeling suggests that radiative forcing from this massive, high-latitude eruption led to pronounced changes in hydroclimate, including seasonal temperatures in specific Mediterranean regions as much as 7 °C below normal during the 2 y period following the eruption and unusually wet conditions. While it is difficult to establish direct causal linkages to thinly documented historical events, the wet and very cold conditions from this massive eruption on the opposite side of Earth probably resulted in crop failures, famine, and disease, exacerbating social unrest and contributing to political realignments throughout the Mediterranean region at this critical juncture of Western civilization.« less
  4. Abstract. The last glacial period is characterized by a number of millennial climateevents that have been identified in both Greenland and Antarctic ice coresand that are abrupt in Greenland climate records. The mechanisms governingthis climate variability remain a puzzle that requires a precisesynchronization of ice cores from the two hemispheres to be resolved.Previously, Greenland and Antarctic ice cores have been synchronizedprimarily via their common records of gas concentrations or isotopes fromthe trapped air and via cosmogenic isotopes measured on the ice. In thiswork, we apply ice core volcanic proxies and annual layer counting toidentify large volcanic eruptions that have leftmore »a signature in bothGreenland and Antarctica. Generally, no tephra is associated with thoseeruptions in the ice cores, so the source of the eruptions cannot beidentified. Instead, we identify and match sequences of volcanic eruptionswith bipolar distribution of sulfate, i.e. unique patterns of volcanicevents separated by the same number of years at the two poles. Using thisapproach, we pinpoint 82 large bipolar volcanic eruptions throughout thesecond half of the last glacial period (12–60 ka). Thisimproved ice core synchronization is applied to determine the bipolarphasing of abrupt climate change events at decadal-scale precision. Inresponse to Greenland abrupt climatic transitions, we find a response in theAntarctic water isotope signals (δ18O and deuterium excess)that is both more immediate and more abrupt than that found with previousgas-based interpolar synchronizations, providing additional support for ourvolcanic framework. On average, the Antarctic bipolar seesaw climateresponse lags the midpoint of Greenland abrupt δ18O transitionsby 122±24 years. The time difference between Antarctic signals indeuterium excess and δ18O, which likewise informs the timeneeded to propagate the signal as described by the theory of the bipolarseesaw but is less sensitive to synchronization errors, suggests anAntarctic δ18O lag behind Greenland of 152±37 years.These estimates are shorter than the 200 years suggested by earliergas-based synchronizations. As before, we find variations in the timing andduration between the response at different sites and for different eventssuggesting an interaction of oceanic and atmospheric teleconnection patternsas well as internal climate variability.« less
  5. Abstract. The South Pole Ice Core (SPICEcore) was drilled in 2014–2016 to provide adetailed multi-proxy archive of paleoclimate conditions in East Antarcticaduring the Holocene and late Pleistocene. Interpretation of these recordsrequires an accurate depth–age relationship. Here, we present the SPICEcore (SP19) timescale for the age of the ice of SPICEcore. SP19 is synchronized to theWD2014 chronology from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide (WAIS Divide) icecore using stratigraphic matching of 251 volcanic events. These eventsindicate an age of 54 302±519 BP (years before 1950) at thebottom of SPICEcore. Annual layers identified in sodium and magnesium ionsto 11 341 BP were used to interpolate betweenmore »stratigraphic volcanic tiepoints, yielding an annually resolved chronology through the Holocene.Estimated timescale uncertainty during the Holocene is less than 18 yearsrelative to WD2014, with the exception of the interval between 1800 to 3100BP when uncertainty estimates reach ±25 years due to widely spacedvolcanic tie points. Prior to the Holocene, uncertainties remain within 124 years relative to WD2014. Results show an average Holocene accumulation rateof 7.4 cm yr−1 (water equivalent). The time variability of accumulation rateis consistent with expectations for steady-state ice flow through the modernspatial pattern of accumulation rate. Time variations in nitrateconcentration, nitrate seasonal amplitude and δ15N of N2 in turn are as expected for the accumulation rate variations. The highlyvariable yet well-constrained Holocene accumulation history at the site canhelp improve scientific understanding of deposition-sensitive climateproxies such as δ15N of N2 and photolyzed chemicalcompounds.« less
  6. Water-stable isotopes in polar ice cores are a widely used temperature proxy in paleoclimate reconstruction, yet calibration remains challenging in East Antarctica. Here, we reconstruct the magnitude and spatial pattern of Last Glacial Maximum surface cooling in Antarctica using borehole thermometry and firn properties in seven ice cores. West Antarctic sites cooled ~10°C relative to the preindustrial period. East Antarctic sites show a range from ~4° to ~7°C cooling, which is consistent with the results of global climate models when the effects of topographic changes indicated with ice core air-content data are included, but less than those indicated with themore »use of water-stable isotopes calibrated against modern spatial gradients. An altered Antarctic temperature inversion during the glacial reconciles our estimates with water-isotope observations.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 4, 2022