Interaction of polar and tropical influences in the mid-latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere during the Mi-1 deglaciation

B. R.S. Fox, W. J. D'Andrea, G. S. Wilson, D. E. Lee, J. A. Wartho

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7 Citations (Scopus)


It is well-known from geologic archives that Pleistocene and Holocene climate is characterised by cyclical variation on a wide range of timescales, and that these cycles of variation interact in complex ways. However, it is rarely possible to reconstruct sub-precessional (< 20 kyr) climate variations for periods predating the oldest ice-core records (c. 800 ka). Here we present an investigation of orbital to potentially sub-precessional cyclicity from an annually resolved lake sediment core dated to a 100-kyr period in the earliest Miocene (23.03–22.93 Ma) and spanning a period of major Antarctic deglaciation associated with the second half of the Mi-1 event. Principal component analysis (PCA) of sediment bulk density, magnetic susceptibility (MS), and CIELAB L* and b* with a resolution of ~10 years indicates two major environmental processes governing the physical properties records, which we interpret as changes in wind strength and changes in precipitation. Spectral analysis of the principal components indicates that both processes are strongly influenced by obliquity (41 kyr). We interpret this 41-kyr cycle in wind strength and precipitation as related to the changing position and strength of the Southern Hemisphere westerly winds. Precipitation is also influenced by an 11-kyr cycle. The 11-kyr periodicity is potentially related to orbital cyclicity, representing the equatorial semi-precessional maximum insolation cycle. This semi-precession cycle has been identified in a number of records from the Pleistocene and Holocene and has recently been suggested to indicate that insolation in low-latitude regions may be an important driver of millennial-scale climate response to orbital forcing (Feretti et al., 2015). This is the first time this cycle has been identified in a mid-latitude Southern Hemisphere climate archive, as well as the first identification in pre-Pleistocene records. The 11-kyr cycle appears at around 23.01 Ma, which coincides with the initiation of a major phase of Antarctic deglaciation, and strengthens during the subsequent period of rapid ice decay. This pattern suggests that the westerly winds may have expanded north of 50°S at the height of Mi-1, excluding tropical influence from the Foulden Maar site, and subsequently contracted polewards in tandem with warming deep-sea temperatures and Antarctic deglaciation, allowing the advection of tropical waters further south.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-120
Number of pages12
JournalGlobal and Planetary Change
Early online date3 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


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