Significance

Cold and dry glacial-state climate conditions persisted in the Southern Hemisphere until approximately 17.7 ka, when paleoclimate records show a largely unexplained sharp, nearly synchronous acceleration in deglaciation. Detailed measurements in Antarctic ice cores document exactly at that time a unique, ∼192-y series of massive halogen-rich volcanic eruptions geochemically attributed to Mount Takahe in West Antarctica. Rather than a coincidence, we postulate that halogen-catalyzed stratospheric ozone depletion over Antarctica triggered large-scale atmospheric circulation and hydroclimate changes similar to the modern Antarctic ozone hole, explaining the synchronicity and abruptness of accelerated Southern Hemisphere deglaciation.

Abstract

Glacial-state greenhouse gas concentrations and Southern Hemisphere climate conditions persisted until ∼17.7 ka, when a nearly synchronous acceleration in deglaciation was recorded in paleoclimate proxies in large parts of the Southern Hemisphere, with many changes ascribed to a sudden poleward shift in the Southern Hemisphere westerlies and subsequent climate impacts. We used high-resolution chemical measurements in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide, Byrd, and other ice cores to document a unique, ∼192-y series of halogen-rich volcanic eruptions exactly at the start of accelerated deglaciation, with tephra identifying the nearby Mount Takahe volcano as the source. Extensive fallout from these massive eruptions has been found >2,800 km from Mount Takahe. Sulfur isotope anomalies and marked decreases in ice core bromine consistent with increased surface UV radiation indicate that the eruptions led to stratospheric ozone depletion. Rather than a highly improbable coincidence, circulation and climate changes extending from the Antarctic Peninsula to the subtropics—similar to those associated with modern stratospheric ozone depletion over Antarctica—plausibly link the Mount Takahe eruptions to the onset of accelerated Southern Hemisphere deglaciation ∼17.7 ka.

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Data Availability

Data deposition: The data reported in this work have been deposited with the U.S. Antarctic Program Data Center, www.usap-dc.org/view/dataset/601008.

Acknowledgments

We acknowledge R. von Glasow for help with snowpack model simulations, and J. Stutz and R. Kreidberg for helpful discussions. The US National Science Foundation supported this work [Grants 0538427, 0839093, and 1142166 (to J.R.M.); 1043518 (to E.J.B.); 0538657 and 1043421 (to J.P. Severinghaus); 0538553 and 0839066 (to J.C.-D.); and 0944348, 0944191, 0440817, 0440819, and 0230396 (to K.C.T.)]. We thank the WAIS Divide Science Coordination Office and other support organizations. P.K. and G.K. were funded by Polar Regions and Coasts in a Changing Earth System-II, with additional support from the Helmholtz Climate Initiative.

Supporting Information

Appendix (PDF)
Dataset_S01 (XLSX)

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Information & Authors

Information

Published in

Go to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Go to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Vol. 114 | No. 38
September 19, 2017
PubMed: 28874529

Classifications

Data Availability

Data deposition: The data reported in this work have been deposited with the U.S. Antarctic Program Data Center, www.usap-dc.org/view/dataset/601008.

Submission history

Published online: September 5, 2017
Published in issue: September 19, 2017

Keywords

  1. climate
  2. deglaciation
  3. volcanism
  4. ozone
  5. aerosol

Acknowledgments

We acknowledge R. von Glasow for help with snowpack model simulations, and J. Stutz and R. Kreidberg for helpful discussions. The US National Science Foundation supported this work [Grants 0538427, 0839093, and 1142166 (to J.R.M.); 1043518 (to E.J.B.); 0538657 and 1043421 (to J.P. Severinghaus); 0538553 and 0839066 (to J.C.-D.); and 0944348, 0944191, 0440817, 0440819, and 0230396 (to K.C.T.)]. We thank the WAIS Divide Science Coordination Office and other support organizations. P.K. and G.K. were funded by Polar Regions and Coasts in a Changing Earth System-II, with additional support from the Helmholtz Climate Initiative.

Notes

This article is a PNAS Direct Submission.

Authors

Affiliations

Joseph R. McConnell1 [email protected]
Division of Hydrologic Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Reno, NV 89512;
Andrea Burke
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, KY16 9AL United Kingdom;
Nelia W. Dunbar
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, NM 87801;
Peter Köhler
Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung, 27512 Bremerhaven, Germany;
Jennie L. Thomas
Sorbonne Université, Pierre and Marie Curie University, Université Versailles St-Quentin, CNRS, Institut National des Sciences de l'Univers, Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales, Institut Pierre Simon Laplace, 75252 Paris, France;
Division of Hydrologic Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Reno, NV 89512;
Nathan J. Chellman
Division of Hydrologic Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Reno, NV 89512;
Olivia J. Maselli
Division of Hydrologic Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Reno, NV 89512;
Michael Sigl
Division of Hydrologic Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Reno, NV 89512;
Jess F. Adkins
Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125;
Daniel Baggenstos
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093;
John F. Burkhart
Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, NO-0316 Oslo, Norway;
Edward J. Brook
College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331;
Christo Buizert
College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331;
Jihong Cole-Dai
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD 57007;
T. J. Fudge
Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195;
Gregor Knorr
Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung, 27512 Bremerhaven, Germany;
Hans-F. Graf
Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 3EN United Kingdom;
Mackenzie M. Grieman
Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, CA 92617;
Nels Iverson
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, NM 87801;
Kenneth C. McGwire
Division of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Reno, NV 89512;
Robert Mulvaney
British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, CB3 OET United Kingdom;
Guillaume Paris
Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125;
Rachael H. Rhodes
College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331;
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 3EQ United Kingdom;
Eric S. Saltzman
Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, CA 92617;
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093;
Jørgen Peder Steffensen
Centre for Ice and Climate, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, DK-1017 Denmark;
Kendrick C. Taylor
Division of Hydrologic Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Reno, NV 89512;
Gisela Winckler
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Earth Institute at Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964

Notes

1
To whom correspondence should be addressed. Email: [email protected].
Author contributions: J.R.M. designed research; J.R.M., A.B., N.W.D., P.K., J.L.T., M.M.A., N.J.C., O.J.M., M.S., J.F.A., D.B., J.F.B., E.J.B., J.C.-D., T.J.F., G.K., M.M.G., N.I., K.C.M., R.M., G.P., R.H.R., E.S.S., J.P. Severinghaus, J.P. Steffensen, K.C.T., and G.W. performed research; J.R.M. contributed new reagents/analytic tools; J.R.M., A.B., N.W.D., P.K., J.L.T., M.S., E.J.B., C.B., J.C.-D., G.K., H.-F.G., N.I., K.C.M., and G.W. analyzed data; and J.R.M., A.B., N.W.D., P.K., J.L.T., E.J.B., C.B., H.-F.G., and G.W. wrote the paper.

Competing Interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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    Synchronous volcanic eruptions and abrupt climate change ∼17.7 ka plausibly linked by stratospheric ozone depletion
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
    • Vol. 114
    • No. 38
    • pp. 9991-E8130

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