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Climate and atmospheric circulation changes over the past 1000 years reconstructed from oxygen isotopes in lake-sediment carbonate from Ireland

By Jonathan Holmes, Carol Arrowsmith, William Austin, John Boyle, Elizabeth Fisher, R. Holme, Jim Marshall, Frank Oldfield and Kuno van der Post


A 1000 year long subdecadal-resolution record of carbonate oxygen isotopes (δ18Oc) from Lough-na-Shade, Ireland, provides evidence for changing atmospheric circulation over northwest Europe. The total range of δ18Oc values (>5‰) is too large to be explained by changes in water temperature. Moreover, good correlation between the lake record and a previously published δ18O time series from an Irish speleothem indicates that the changes in oxygen isotopes are best explained by variations in the isotopic composition of precipitation. The amplitude of change during this period is too large to be explained by shifts in condensation temperature. Instead we suggest that there have been changes in vapour source and transport paths connected with shifts in atmospheric circulation. Changes from a source area from further south within the North Atlantic to one further to the north could explain the prominent positive shift in oxygen-isotope values between the early eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, for example. Our results also demonstrate the value of a ‘multiple-archive’ approach to deconvolving lake-based carbonate isotope profiles, which are often complex. \ud \u

Publisher: Sage
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.1177/0959683610369504
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