Little Ice Age Evidence from a South-Central North American Ice Core, U.S.A

TitleLittle Ice Age Evidence from a South-Central North American Ice Core, U.S.A
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1996
AuthorsNaftz DL, Klusman RW, Michel RL, Schuster PF, Reddy MM, Taylor HE, Yanosky TM, McConnaughey EA
JournalArctic and Alpine Research
ISBN Number0004-0851

In the past, ice-core records from mid-latitude glaciers in alpine areas of the continental United States were considered to be poor candidates for paleoclimate records because of the influence of meltwater on isotopic stratigraphy. To evaluate the existence of reliable paleoclimatic records, a 160-m ice core, containing about 250 yr of record was obtained from Upper Fremont Glacier, at an altitude of 4000 m in the Wind River Range of south-central North America. The 18O (SMOW) profile from the core shows a -0.95 shift to lighter values in the interval from 101.8 to 150 m below the surface, corresponding to the latter part of the Little Ice Age (LIA). Numerous high-amplitude oscillations in the section of the core from 101.8 to 150 m cannot be explained by site-specific lateral variability and probably reflect increased seasonality or better preservation of annual signals as a result of prolonged cooler temperatures that existed in this alpine setting. An abrupt decrease in these large amplitude oscillations at the 101.8-m depth suggests a sudden termination of this period of lower temperatures which generally coincides with the termination of the LIA. Three common features in the 18O profiles between Upper Fremont Glacier and the better dated Quelccaya Ice Cap cores indicate a global paleoclimate linkage, further supporting the first documented occurrence of the LIA in an ice-core record from a temperate glacier in south-central North America.