08 Jun 2023
 | 08 Jun 2023

The first firn core from Peter 1st Island – capturing climate variability across the Bellingshausen Sea

Elizabeth Ruth Thomas, Dieter Tetzner, Bradley Markle, Joel Pedro, Guisella Gacitúa, Dorothea Elisabeth Moser, and Sarah Jackson

Abstract. Peter 1st Island is situated in the Bellingshausen Sea, a region that has experienced considerable climate change in recent decades. Warming sea surface temperatures and reduced sea ice cover have been accompanied by warming surface air temperature, increased snowfall, and accelerated mass loss over the adjacent ice sheet. Here we present data from the first firn core drilled on Peter 1st Island, spanning the period 2001–2017 CE. The stable water isotope data capture regional changes in surface air temperature, and precipitation (snow accumulation) at the site, which are highly correlated with the surrounding Amundsen-Bellingshausen Seas, and the adjacent Antarctic Peninsula (r>0.6, p<0.05). The unique in-situ data from an automatic weather station, together with the firn core data, confirms the high skill of the ERA5 reanalysis in capturing daily mean temperature and inter-annual precipitation variability, even over a small Sub-Antarctic Island. This study demonstrates the suitability of Peter 1st Island for future deep ice core drilling, with the potential to provide an invaluable archive to explore ice-ocean-atmosphere interactions over decadal to centennial timescales for this dynamic region.

Elizabeth Ruth Thomas et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1064', Anonymous Referee #1, 15 Jul 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1064', Bess Koffman, 16 Sep 2023

Elizabeth Ruth Thomas et al.

Elizabeth Ruth Thomas et al.


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Short summary
The chemical records contained in a 12 m firn (ice) core from Peter 1st Island, a remote Sub-Antarctic Island situated in the Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean (the Bellingshausen Sea), captures changes in snowfall and temperature (2002–2017 C.E.). This data sparse region has experienced dramatic climate change in recent decades, including sea ice decline and ice loss from adjacent West Antarctic glaciers.