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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 17 Dec 2018

Research article | 17 Dec 2018

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

Decadal-scale progression of Dansgaard-Oeschger warming events

Tobias Erhardt1, Emilie Capron2,3, Sune Olander Rasmussen2, Simon Schüpbach1, Matthias Bigler1, Florian Adolphi1,4, and Hubertus Fischer1 Tobias Erhardt et al.
  • 1Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Institute & Oeschger Center for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Sidlerstrasse 5, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
  • 2Centre for Ice and Climate, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Juliane Maries Vej 30, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 3British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 0ET, UK
  • 4Quaternary Sciences, Department of Geology, Lund University, Sölvegatan 12, 22362 Lund, Sweden

Abstract. During the last glacial period, proxy records throughout the Northern Hemisphere document a succession of rapid millennial-scale warming events, called Dansgaard-Oeschger (DO) events. A range of different mechanisms have been proposed that can produce similar warming in model experiments, however the progression and ultimate trigger of the events is still unknown. Because of their fast nature, the progression is challenging to reconstruct from paleoclimate data due to the limited temporal resolution achievable in many archives and cross-dating uncertainties between records. Here we use new high-resolution multi-proxy records of sea-salt (derived from sea spray and sea ice over the North Atlantic) and terrestrial (derived from the Central Asian deserts) aerosol concentrations over the period 10–60 ka from the Greenland NGRIP and NEEM ice cores in conjunction with local precipitation and temperature proxies from one of the cores to investigate the progression of environmental changes at the onset of the warming events at annual to multi-annual resolution. Our results show on average a small lead of the changes in both local precipitation and terrestrial dust aerosol concentrations over the change in sea-salt aerosol concentrations and local temperature of approximately one decade. This suggests that, connected to the reinvigoration of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation and the warming in the North Atlantic, both synoptic and hemispheric atmospheric circulation change at the onset of the DO warming, affecting both the moisture transport to Greenland and the Asian monsoon systems. Taken at face value, this suggests that a collapse of the sea-ice cover was not the initial trigger for the DO events.

Tobias Erhardt et al.
Interactive discussion
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Status: final response (author comments only)
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Tobias Erhardt et al.
Data sets

High resolution aerosol, layer thickness and d18O (10-60ka) from NGRIP and NEEM ice cores T. Erhardt, E. Capron, S. O. Rasmussen, S. Schüpbach, M. Bigler, F. Adolphi, and H. Fischer

Tobias Erhardt et al.
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Short summary
The cause of the rapid warming events documented in proxy records across the Northern Hemisphere during the last glacial has been a long-standing puzzle in paleo-climate research. Here we use high resolution ice core data from to cores in Greenland to investigate the progression during the onset of these events on muti-annual time scales to test their plausible triggers. We show that atmospheric circulation changes preceded the warming in Greenland and the collapse of the sea ice by a decade.
The cause of the rapid warming events documented in proxy records across the Northern Hemisphere...