Date of Award

Spring 1999

Project Type


Program or Major

Earth Sciences

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Gregory A Zielinski


The past and present variability of climate in the Arctic region is investigated using ice core records of atmospheric dust (microparticles) and volcanic aerosols developed from the Canadian Arctic and Greenland. A high-resolution, 10 4-year long proxy record of atmospheric dust deposition is developed from an ice core (P95) drilled through the Penny Ice Cap, Baffin Island. Snowpit studies indicate that dust deposited on the Penny Ice Cap are representative of background mineral aerosol, and demonstrate that the variability of dust fallout is preserved in the P95 core at multi-annual to longer time scales. The P95 dust record reveals a significant increase in dust deposition on the Penny Ice Cap between ca 7500--5000 yr ago. This increase was driven by early to mid-/late Holocene transformations in the Northern Hemisphere landscape (ice cover retreat, postglacial land emergence) and climate (transition to colder, drier conditions) that led to an expansion of sources and enhanced eolian activity. Comparison between dust records in the P95 and GISP2 (Greenland) ice cores shows an increasing divergence between the two records beginning ca 7500 years ago.

The effects of Northern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation and snow cover extent on atmospheric dust deposition in the Arctic are evaluated by comparing the P95 dust record with observational data. Changes in dust deposition are strongly linked to modes of the Northern Hemisphere winter circulation. Most prominently, an inverse relationship between the P95 dust record and the intensity of the winter Siberian High accounts for over 50% of the interannual variance of these two parameters over the period 1899--1995. On inter- to multi-annual time scales, the P95 dust record is significantly anticorrelated with variations in spring, and to a lesser extent fall, snow cover extent in the mid-latitude interior regions of Eurasia and North America. These relationships account for an estimated 10 to 20% of variance in the P95 dust record.

An empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis is used to investigate patterns of temporal covariance among insoluble microparticles and major ions deposited in the GISP2 and P95 ice cores. Dust and major ions covary strongly in the GISP2 late glacial record but are uncorrelated in both the GISP2 and P95 Holocene records. Companion EOF analyses of the Holocene records identify distinctive covariance patterns among microparticles and/or major ions that are associated with certain aerosols types or with source-specific air masses reaching the Arctic, providing further evidence of increased regional-scale climatic and atmospheric variability over the last ∼ 12,000 years.

The atmospheric and climatic impact of the early Holocene eruption of Mount Mazama (Crater Lake, Oregon) is evaluated from the GISP2 ice core record of volcanically-derived sulfate and ash particles. The calendrical age of the eruption is determined to be 7627 +/- 150 cal yr B.P. The GISP2 sulfate record suggests a total stratospheric aerosol loading between 88 and 224 Mt spread over a ∼ 6-year period following the eruption. From these figures, the Mount Mazama eruption is estimated to have depressed temperature by ∼ 0.6 to 0.7°C at mid- to high northern latitudes. (Abstract shortened by UMI.).