Diatom Silica Oxygen Isotope Records from the Late Quaternary Antarctic Margin

Dataset description

Antarctica and its ice sheets have played, and continue to play, a major role in the global ocean-atmosphere system, hence, it is critical that we have a sound understanding of the past behaviour of Antarctica and it's ice sheets with a view to understanding their potential future variability under a warming climate. The Southern Ocean is a key component of the thermohaline circulation of the world's oceans and the re-distribution of heat and salt around the oceans is integral to processes that regulate rapid climate transitions. Computer modelling results have shown that sufficient melt water input to the Antarctic continental shelf area is capable of shutting down the formation of cold, salty deep water in Antarctica hence upsetting the balance of the thermohaline circulation and the ocean-climate system of the Northern Hemisphere. In order to further investigate these processes that originate in Antarctica, it is necessary to understand the transfer mechanisms of ocean-climate signals from the Antarctic ice sheets, across the continental margin seas, into the Southern Ocean. Exceptionally well-preserved Antarctic margin sediment cores, recovered during the last decade, contain an excellent archive of these ice-ocean-climate interactions, often on seasonal timescales, from the end of the last ice age and throughout the recent warm interglacial (the Holocene). The cores are seasonally layered through the deglaication, intermittently layered through the Holocene, and the layers are dominated by fossil planktonic diatoms (algae); individual species of which are sensitive to sea surface conditions including sea ice concentration, fresh water influx, and open ocean influence upon the margin. Following the last ice age, these Holocene Antarctic sediments record climate fluctuations of tens to thousands of years long and whatever environmental forcing mechanism is responsible for these fluctuations, the changes are likely to be felt in the Antarctic coastal regions first, and the cores proposed for this research are located in prime positions to record these changes. Diatom oxygen isotope measurements represent an under-utilised technique that provides a means of obtaining oxygen isotope records in high latitude environments. The measurement of oxygen isotopes in diatoms is a widely used proxy in the study of the history of lakes, however, to date there have been many fewer attempts to use records of diatom oxygen isotopes in the oceans. Studies that have taken place have demonstrated the sensitivity of diatom oxyegn isotope measurements in polar and sub-polar waters to changes in surface ocean environmental parameters such as salinity, freshwater input and sea surface temperature. The research proposed here will be the first attempt to produce diatom oxygen isotope records from the Antarctic margin, a region sensitive to the waxing and waning of the Antarctic ice sheets in terms of melt water through-put to the Southern Ocean. We propose to investigate the evolution of seasonality along the Antarctic margin since the last ice age, and also the processes involved in producing the sediment record, by relating diatom oxygen isotope measurements on season-specific diatom taxa (i.e. diatom species that thrived particularly in spring or autumn) to relative freshwater influx to the coast, from either melted terrestrial ice or sea ice. We also hope to show that the diatom oxygen isotope measurements will be low at the end of the last ice age, as a large quantity of old ice sheets were melting, and will be higher during warmer time periods of the Holocene when ice sheets were at a minimum.

Further information

For more information please contact:

Enquiries

Environmental Science Centre, Nicker Hill, Keyworth
Nottingham
NG12 5GG

Tel : +44 (0)115 936 3143
Fax :+44 (0)115 936 3276
Email :enquiries@bgs.ac.uk

 

Dataset details

Author(s) Leng,Melanie J , George Swann
Principal Investigator(s) Leng,Melanie J
NERC-BGS Science Director, Stable Isotope Facility and CEG
British Geological Survey
George Swann
University of Nottingham
Language English
Curator British Geological Survey
Supply media/format Not available
Storage format Not available
Frequency of update not applicable
Start of capture {ts '2009-03-01 00:00:00'} Not known
End of capture {ts '2012-03-01 00:00:00'} March 2012
Contact details
Department Enquiries
Organisation British Geological Survey
Address Environmental Science Centre, Nicker Hill, Keyworth
City Nottingham
County Nottinghamshire
Country United Kingdom
Postcode NG12 5GG
E-mail enquiries@bgs.ac.uk
Telephone +44 (0)115 936 3143
Fax +44 (0)115 936 3276
Keywords
Topic category code (ISO) geoscientificInformation (information pertaining to earth sciences)
Keywords ANTARCTIC REGIONS
CLIMATE CHANGE
GLACIAL PERIOD
GLACIATION
HOLOCENE
LAND ICE
OXYGEN ISOTOPES
Keyword source BGS Keyphrases
Spatial details
Spatial Reference System Latitude and Longitudes on undefined datum and spheroid []
Dataset extent
Coverage (Lat/Long) North boundary : -64.85
East boundary  : -64.2
South boundary : -64.87
West boundary  : -64.22
Metadata
Metadata language English
Metadata last updated 4th May 2016
Metadata standard compliance NERC profile of ISO19115:2003
Copyright and IPR
The copyright of materials derived from the British Geological Survey's work is vested in the Natural Environment Research Council [NERC]. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a retrieval system of any nature, without the prior permission of the copyright holder, via the BGS Intellectual Property Rights Manager. Use by customers of information provided by the BGS, is at the customer's own risk. In view of the disparate sources of information at BGS's disposal, including such material donated to BGS, that BGS accepts in good faith as being accurate, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) gives no warranty, expressed or implied, as to the quality or accuracy of the information supplied, or to the information's suitability for any use. NERC/BGS accepts no liability whatever in respect of loss, damage, injury or other occurence however caused.