06 Apr 2022
06 Apr 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Climate of the Past (CP).

Antarctic sea ice over the past 130,000 years, Part 1: A review of what proxy records tell us

Xavier Crosta1, Karen E. Kohfeld2,3, Helen C. Bostock4, Matthew Chadwick5, Alice Du Vivier6, Oliver Esper7, Johan Etourneau1,8, Jacob Jones2, Amy Leventer9, Juliane Müller7, Rachel H. Rhodes10, Claire S. Allen5, Pooja Ghadi11, Nele Lamping7, Carina Lange12,13,14, Kelly-Anne Lawler15, David Lund16, Alice Marzocchi17, Katrin J. Meissner18,19, Laurie Menviel18,20, Abhilash Nair21, Molly Patterson22, Jennifer Pike23, Joseph G. Prebble24, Christina Riesselman25, Henrik Sadatzki7, Louise C. Sime5, Sunil K. Shukla26, Lena Thöle27, Maria-Elena Vorrath7, Wenshen Xiao28, and Jiao Yang29 Xavier Crosta et al.
  • 1Université de Bordeaux, CNRS, UMR 5805 EPOC, Pessac, France
  • 2School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada
  • 3School of Environmental Science, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada
  • 4School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
  • 5British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK
  • 6National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 7Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 8EPHE/PSL Research University, Paris, France
  • 9Colgate University, NY, USA
  • 10Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EQ, United Kingdom
  • 11School of Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Goa University, Taleigao Plateau, Goa, 403206, India
  • 12Departamento de Oceanografía and Centro Oceanográfico COPAS Sur-Austral/COPAS Coastal, Universidad de Concepción, Concepción, Chile
  • 13Centro de Investigación Dinámica de Ecosistemas Marinos de Altas Latitudes (IDEAL), Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Chile
  • 14Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California 92037
  • 15Research School of Earth Sciences, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
  • 16Department of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut, USA
  • 17National Oceanography Centre, European Way, Southampton SO14 3ZH, UK
  • 18Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
  • 19ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
  • 20The Australian Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Science, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia
  • 21National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research, Vasco-Da-Gama, Goa, 403 804, India
  • 22Geological Sciences and Environmental Studies, Binghamton University, NY, USA
  • 23School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Cardiff Univervisty, United Kingdom
  • 24GNS Science, Lower Hutt, New Zealand
  • 25Departments of Geology and Marine Sience, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  • 26Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences, Lucknow, India
  • 27Department of Earth Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 28State Key Laboratory of Marine Geology, Tongji University, Shanghai 200092, China
  • 29State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Science, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, China

Abstract. Antarctic sea ice plays a critical role in the Earth system, influencing energy, heat, and freshwater fluxes, air-sea gas exchange, ice shelf dynamics, ocean circulation, nutrient cycling, marine productivity, and global carbon cycling. However, accurate simulation of recent sea-ice changes remains challenging, and therefore projecting future sea-ice changes and their influence on the global climate system is uncertain. Reconstructing past changes in sea-ice cover can provide additional insights into climate feedbacks within the Earth system at different timescales. This paper is the first of two review papers from the Cycles of Sea Ice Dynamics in the Earth system (C-SIDE) Working Group. In this first paper, we review marine- and ice core-based sea-ice proxies and reconstructions of sea-ice changes throughout the last glacial-interglacial cycle.

Antarctic sea-ice reconstructions rely mainly on diatom fossil assemblages and highly branched isoprenoid (HBI) alkenes in marine sediments, supported by chemical proxies in Antarctic ice cores. Most reconstructions for the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) suggest winter sea-ice expanded all around Antarctica and covered almost twice its modern surface extent. In contrast, LGM summer sea-ice expanded mainly in the regions off the Weddell and Ross seas. The difference between winter and summer sea ice during the LGM led to a larger seasonal cycle than today. More recent efforts have focused on reconstructing Antarctic sea-ice during warm periods, such as the Holocene and the Last Interglacial (LIG), which may serve as an analogue the future. Notwithstanding regional heterogeneities, existing reconstructions suggest sea-ice cover increased from the warm mid-Holocene to the colder Late Holocene, with pervasive decadal-to-millennial scale variability throughout the Holocene. Sparse marine and ice core data, supported by proxy modelling experiments, suggest that sea-ice cover was halved during the warmer LIG, when global average temperatures were ~2 °C above the pre-industrial (PI).

There are limited marine (14) and ice core (4) sea-ice proxy records covering the complete 130,000 year (130 ka) last glacial cycle. The glacial-interglacial pattern of sea-ice advance and retreat appears relatively similar in each basin of the Southern Ocean. Rapid retreat of sea ice occurred during Terminations II and I, while the expansion of sea ice during the last glaciation appears more gradual, especially in cores data sets. Marine records suggest that the first prominent expansion occurred during Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 4 and that sea ice reached maximum extent during MIS 2. We however note that additional sea-ice records and transient model simulations are required to better identify the underlying drivers and feedbacks of Antarctic sea-ice changes over the last 130 ka. This understanding is critical to improve future predictions.

Xavier Crosta et al.

Status: open (until 01 Jun 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-99', Niccolò Maffezzoli, 04 May 2022 reply

Xavier Crosta et al.


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Short summary
Despite its importance in global climate, our knowledge of Antarctic sea-ice changes throughout the last glacial-interglacial cycle is extremely limited. As part of the Cycles of Sea Ice Dynamics in the Earth system (C-SIDE) Working Group, we here review marine- and ice core-based sea-ice proxies to provide insigths in their applicability and limitations. By compiling published records, we provide information on Antarctic sea-ice dynamics over the past 130,000 years.