The last deglaciation: timing the bipolar seesaw

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


  • Joel Benjamin Pedro
  • Rasmussen, Sune Olander
  • Tas D. van Ommen
  • Vin I. Morgan
  • Jerome Chappellaz
  • Andrew D. Moy
  • Valerie Masson-Delmotte
  • Marc Delmotte
Precise information on the relative timing of north-south climate variations is a key to resolving questions concerning the mechanisms that force and couple climate changes between the hemispheres. We present a new composite record made from five well-resolved Antarctic ice core records that robustly represents the timing of regional Antarctic climate change during the last deglaciation.
Using fast variations in global methane gas concentrations as time markers, the Antarctic composite is directly compared to Greenland ice core records, allowing a detailed mapping of the inter-hemispheric sequence of climate changes. Consistent with prior studies the synchronized records show that warming (and cooling) trends in Antarctica closely match cold (and warm) periods in Greenland on millennial timescales. For the first time, we also identify a sub-millennial component to the inter-hemispheric coupling. Within the Antarctic Cold Reversal the strongest Antarctic cooling occurs during the pronounced northern warmth of the Bølling. Warming then resumes in Antarctica, potentially as early as the Intra-Allerød Cold Period, but with dating uncertainty that could place it as late as the onset of the Younger Dryas stadial. There is little-to-no time lag between climate transitions in Greenland and opposing changes in Antarctica.
Our results lend support to fast acting inter-hemispheric coupling mechanisms, including recently proposed bipolar atmospheric teleconnections and/or rapid bipolar ocean teleconnections.
Original languageEnglish
JournalClimate of the Past
Pages (from-to)671
Number of pages683
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2011

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