Abstract

Three marine sediment cores were collected along the length of the fjord axis of Barilari Bay, Graham Land, west Antarctic Peninsula (65°55′S, 64°43′W). Multi-proxy analytical results constrained by high-resolution geochronological methods (210Pb, radiocarbon, 137Cs) in concert with historical observations capture a record of Holocene paleoenvironmental variability. Our results suggest early and middle Holocene (>7022–2815 cal. [calibrated] yr B.P.) retreated glacial positions and seasonally open marine conditions with increased primary productivity. Climatic cooling increased sea ice coverage and decreased primary productivity during the Neoglacial (2815 to cal. 730 cal. yr B.P.). This climatic cooling culminated with glacial advance to maximum Holocene positions and expansion of a fjord-wide ice shelf during the Little Ice Age (LIA) (ca. 730–82 cal. yr B.P.). Seasonally open marine conditions were achieved and remnant ice shelves decayed within the context of recent rapid regional warming (82 cal. yr B.P. to present). Our findings agree with previously observed late Holocene cooling and glacial advance across the Antarctic Peninsula, suggesting that the LIA was a regionally significant event with few disparities in timing and magnitude. Comparison of the LIA Antarctic Peninsula record to the rest of the Southern Hemisphere demonstrates close synchronicity in the southeast Pacific and southern most Atlantic region but less coherence for the southwest Pacific and Indian Oceans. Comparisons with the Northern Hemisphere demonstrate that the LIA Antarctic Peninsula record was contemporaneous with pre-LIA cooling and sea ice expansion in the North Atlantic–Arctic, suggesting a global reach for these events.

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