Past Climates


Preliminary work in the Weddell Sea region as part of the ARC Linkage Project with ALE has demonstrated the considerable potential of ‘horizontal ice cores’ exposed within Horseshoe Valley, in the Ellsworth Mountains adjacent to the Weddell Sea.. These are formed by pervasive prevailing katabatic airflow of the polar plateau, leading to high rates of sublimation that removes (ablates) more snow than  accumulates by snowfall, resulting in negative mass balance and net ablation.


The practical upshot is older ice upwells towards Patriot Hills, making it possible to take a horizontal ice core, as opposed to a traditional vertical ice core. Initial analysis at this site has demonstrated potential of obtaining exceptionally long ultra high-resolution climate records spanning potentially up to 100,000 yrs; additionally, through field survey the team have identified five further sites in the Weddell Sea region. These sites represent arguably some of the most unique palaeoclimate records in Antarctica. They provide an economically viable alternative to expensive ice coring, and allow us to provide direct insights into this climatically important region where no other records exist, simply by sampling the upper surface of the ice sheet.


We have also been working at the South Pole, to better understand the linkages between global climate and Antarctica over the past century. These fragile high resolution snow cores, provide a unique record of changing environmental conditions in the centre of the Antarctic Continent and the role of the tropical Pacific.


Key collaborators: Tas van Omen (Australian Antarctic Division and University of Tasmania), Andrew Moy (AAD / UTas), Mark Curran (AAD / UTas), David Etheridge (The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), Mauro Rubino (CSIRO), David Thornton (CSIRO).


If you would like to learn more, check out our recent research papers:


Turney, C.S.M., Fogwill, C.J., Klekociuk, A., van Ommen, T.D., Curran, M.A.J., Moy, A.D. and Palmer, J. (2015). Tropical and mid-latitude forcing of continental Antarctic temperatures. The Cryosphere Discussions 9, 4019–4042.


Turney, C., Fogwill, C., Van Ommen, T.D., Moy, A.D., Etheridge, D., Rubino, M., Curran, M.A.J., Rivera, A., 2013. Late Pleistocene and early Holocene change in the Weddell Sea: a new climate record from the Patriot Hills, Ellsworth Mountains, West Antarctica. Journal of Quaternary Science 28, 697-704.


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