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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© 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 06 May 2019

Research article | 06 May 2019

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

NALPS19: Sub-orbital scale climate variability recorded in Northern Alpine speleothems during the last glacial period

Gina E. Moseley1, Christoph Spötl1, Susanne Brandstätter1, Tobias Erhardt2, Marc Luetscher1, and R. Lawrence Edwards3 Gina E. Moseley et al.
  • 1Institute of Geology, University of Innsbruck, Innrain 52, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
  • 2Climate and Environmental Physics and Oeschger Center for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Sidlerstrasse 5, 53012 Bern, Switzerland
  • 3School of Earth Sciences, University of Minnesota, John T. Tate Hall, Room 150, 116 Church Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455-0149, USA

Abstract. Sub-orbital-scale climate variability of the last glacial period provides important insights into the rates that the climate can change state, the mechanisms that drive that change, and the leads, lags and synchronicity occurring across different climate zones. Such short-term climate variability has previously been investigated using speleothems from the northern rim of the Alps (NALPS), enabling direct chronological comparisons with highly similar shifts in Greenland ice cores. In this study, we present NALPS19, which includes a revision of the last glacial NALPS δ18O chronology over the interval 118.3 to 63.7 ka using eleven,newly-available, clean, precisely-dated stalagmites from five caves. Using only the most reliable and precisely dated records, this period is now 90 % complete and is comprised of 15 stalagmites from seven caves. Where speleothems grew synchronously, major transitional events between stadials and interstadials (and vice versa) are all in agreement within uncertainty. Ramp-fitting analysis further reveals good agreement between the NALPS19 speleothem δ18O record, the GICC05modelext NGRIP ice-core δ18O record, and the Asian Monsoon composite speleothem δ18O record. In contrast, NGRIP ice-core δ18O on AICC2012 appears to be considerably too young. We also propose a longer duration for the interval covering Greenland Stadial (GS) 22 to GS-21.2 in line with the Asian monsoon and NGRIP-EDML. Given the near-complete record of δ18O variability during the last glacial period in the northern Alps, we offer preliminary considerations regarding the controls on mean δ18O. We find that as expected, δ18O values became increasingly more depleted with distance from the oceanic source regions, and increasingly depleted with increasing altitude. Exceptions were found for some high-elevation sites that locally display δ18O values that are too high in comparison to lower-elevation sites, thus indicating a summer bias in the recorded signal. Finally, we propose a new mechanism for the centennial-scale stadial-level depletions in δ18O such as "pre-cursor" events GS-16.2, GS-17.2, GS-21.2, and GS-23.2, as well as the "within-interstadial" GS-24.2 event. Our new high-precision chronology shows that each of these δ18O depletions occurred shortly following rapid rises in sea level associated with increased ice-rafted debris and southward shifts in the Intertropical Convergence Zone, suggesting that influxes of meltwater from moderately-sized ice sheets may have been responsible for the cold reversals causing the AMOC to slow down similar to the Preboreal Oscillation and Older Dryas deglacial events.

Gina E. Moseley et al.
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Status: final response (author comments only)
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Gina E. Moseley et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Abrupt climate change during the last ice age can be used to provide important insights into the timescales on which the climate is capable of changing and the mechanisms that drive those changes. In this study, we construct climate records for the period 60 000 to 120 000 years ago using stalagmites that formed in caves along the northern rim of the European Alps and find good agreement with the timing of climate changes in Greenland and the Asian monsoon.
Abrupt climate change during the last ice age can be used to provide important insights into the...