Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-1625
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-1625
25 Jul 2023
 | 25 Jul 2023

A novel multi proxy approach reveals that the millennial old ice cap on Weißseespitze, Eastern Alps, has preserved its chemical and isotopic signatures despite ongoing ice loss

Azzurra Spagnesi, Pascal Bohleber, Elena Barbaro, Matteo Feltracco, Fabrizio De Blasi, Giuliano Dreossi, Martin Stocker-Waldhuber, Daniela Festi, Jacopo Gabrieli, Andrea Gambaro, Andrea Fischer, and Carlo Barbante

Abstract. From the 1970s to the early 2000s, Alpine ice core research focused on a few suitable drilling sites at high elevation in the Western European Alps, assuming that the counterparts at lower elevation in the eastern sector are unsuitable for paleoenvironmental studies, due to the presence of melting and temperate basal conditions. Since then, it has been demonstrated that even in the Eastern Alpine range, below 4000 m a.s.l., cold ice frozen to bedrock can exist. In fact, millennial-old ice has been found at some locations, such as at the Weißseespitze (WSS) summit ice cap (Ӧtztal Alps, 3499 m a.s.l.), where about 6 kyrs appear locked into 10 m of ice. In this work, we present a full profile of the stable water isotopes (δ18O, δ2H), major ions (Na+, Cl-, Br-, K+, Mg2+, Ca2+, NO32-, SO42-, NH4+, MSA-), levoglucosan, and microcharcoal for two parallel ice cores drilled at the Weißseespitze cap. We find that, despite the ongoing ice loss, the chemical and isotopic signatures appear preserved, and may potentially offer an untapped climatic record. This is especially noteworthy considering that chemical signals of other archives at similar locations have been partially or full corrupted by meltwater (i.e., Silvretta glacier, Grand Combin glacier, Ortles glacier). In addition, the impurity concentration near the surface shows no signs of anthropogenic contamination at WSS, which constrains the age at the surface to falls within the pre-industrial age.

Azzurra Spagnesi et al.

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1625', Anonymous Referee #1, 29 Aug 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1625, RC2', Anonymous Referee #2, 30 Aug 2023

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1625', Anonymous Referee #1, 29 Aug 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1625, RC2', Anonymous Referee #2, 30 Aug 2023

Azzurra Spagnesi et al.

Azzurra Spagnesi et al.

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Short summary
We present new data from a 10 m ice core drilled in 2019 and a 8.4 m parallel ice core drilled in 2021 at the summit of Weißseespitze glacier. In a new combination of proxies, we discuss profiles of stable water isotopes, major ion chemistry as well as a full profile of microcharcoal and levoglucosan. We find that the chemical and isotopic signals are preserved, despite the ongoing surface mass loss. This is not be to expected considering what has been found at other glaciers at similar locations.