Late Holocene climate change recorded in proxy records from a Bransfield Basin sediment core, Antarctic Peninsula

The glacimarine environment of the Antarctic Peninsula region is one of the fastest warming places on Earth today, but details of changes in the recent past remain unknown. Large distances and widespread variability separate late Holocene palaeoclimate reconstructions in this region. This study focuses on a marine sediment core collected from ca. 2000 m below sea level in the Central Bransfield Strait that serves as a key for understanding changes in this region. The core yielded a high sedimentation rate and therefore provides an exceptional high-resolution sedimentary record composed of hemipelagic sediment, with some turbidites. An age model has been created using radiocarbon dates that span the Late Holocene: 3560 cal yr BP to present. This chronostratigraphic framework was used to establish five units, which are grouped into two super-units: a lower super-unit (3560–1600 cal yr BP) and an upper super-unit (1600 cal yr BP–present), based on facies descriptions, laser particle size analysis, x-ray analysis, multi-sensor core logger data, weight percentages and isotopic values of total organic carbon and nitrogen. We interpret the signal contained within the upper super-unit as an increase in surface water irradiance and/or shortening of the sea-ice season and the five units are broadly synchronous with climatic intervals across the Antarctic Peninsula region. While the general trends of regional climatic periods are represented in the Bransfield Basin core we have examined, each additional record that is obtained adds variability to the known history of the Antarctic Peninsula, rather than clarifying specific trends.

Keywords: Antarctic Peninsula; palaeoclimate; Holocene; marine; isotopes.

(Published: 11 June 2014)

Citation: Polar Research 2014, 33, 17236,

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