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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 03 Jan 2019

Research article | 03 Jan 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

Spiky Fluctuations and Scaling in High-Resolution EPICA Ice Core Dust Fluxes

Shaun Lovejoy1 and Fabrice Lambert2 Shaun Lovejoy and Fabrice Lambert
  • 1Physics Department , McGill University, 3600 University st., Montreal, Que. H3A 2T8, Canada
  • 2Department of Physical Geography, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Vicuna Mackenna 4860, Santiago, Chile

Abstract. Atmospheric variability as a function of scale has been divided in various dynamical "regimes" with alternating increasing and decreasing fluctuations: weather, macroweather, climate, macroclimate, megaclimate. Although a vast amount of data is available at small scales, the larger picture is not well constrained due to the scarcity and low resolution of long paleoclimatic time-series. Using statistical techniques originally developed for the study of turbulence, we analyse the fluctuations of a centimetric resolution dust flux time-series from the EPICA Dome C ice-core in Antarctica that spans the past 800 000 years. The temporal resolution is 5 years over the last 400 kyrs, and 25 years over the last 800 kyrs, enabling the detailed statistical analysis and comparison of eight glaciation cycles, and the subdivision of each cycle into eight consecutive phases. The unique span and resolution of the dataset allows us to analyze the macroweather and climate scales in detail, i.e. fluctuations with periodicities from 1 year to 100 000 years.

We find that the interglacial and glacial maximum phases of each cycle showed particularly large macroweather to climate transition scale τc (around 2 kyrs), whereas mid-glacial phases feature centennial transition scales (average of 300 yr). This suggests that interglacials and glacial maxima are exceptionally stable when compared with the rest of a glacial cycle. The Holocene (with τc ≈ 7.9 kyrs) had a particularly large τc but it was not an outlier when compared with the phase 1 and 2 of other cycles. For each phase, we quantified the drift, intermittency, amplitude, and extremeness of the variability. Phases close to the interglacials (1, 2, 8) show low drift, moderate intermittency, and strong extremes, while the "glacial" middle phases 3–7 display strong drift, weak intermittency, and weaker extremes. Our results suggest that despite the large climatic changes occurring during glacial-interglacial transitions, glacial maxima, interglacials, and glacial inceptions were characterized by relatively stable atmospheric conditions, but punctuated by more frequent and severe droughts, than during the more unstable mid-glacial conditions. The low amplitude during phases 6–8 also suggests that the Patagonian ice sheet was not yet fully developed before 30 kyr after glacial inception.

Shaun Lovejoy and Fabrice Lambert
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Shaun Lovejoy and Fabrice Lambert
Data sets

Dust and calcium record in calculated for ice core EPICA Dome C F. Lambert, M. Bigler, J. P. Steffensen, M. A. Hutterli, and H. Fischer

Shaun Lovejoy and Fabrice Lambert
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
We analyze the statistical properties of the eight past glacial-interglacial cycles as well as subsections of a generic glacial cycle using the high-resolution dust flux dataset from the Antarctic EPICA Dome C ice core. We show that the high southern latitude climate during glacial maxima, interglacial, and glacial inception is generally more stable but more drought-prone than during mid-glacial conditions.
We analyze the statistical properties of the eight past glacial-interglacial cycles as well as...