Changes in high-altitude winds over the South Pacific produce long-term effects on the Antarctic
Nov 5, 2019
New findings from the field of Earth history are improving our grasp of climate mechanisms
In the past million years, the high-altitude winds of the southern westerly wind belt, which spans nearly half the globe, didn’t behave as uniformly over the Southern Pacific as previously assumed. Instead, they varied cyclically over periods of circa 21,000 years. A new study has now confirmed close ties between the climate of the mid and high latitudes and that of the tropics in the South Pacific, which has consequences for the carbon budget of the Pacific Southern Ocean and the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The study, led by Dr Frank Lamy from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, also involves researchers from MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at the University of Bremen and has just been released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).
Frank Lamy, John C.H. Chiang, Gema Martínez-Méndez, Mieke Thierens, Helge W. Arz, Joyce Bosmans, Dierk Hebbeln, Fabrice Lambert, Lester Lembke-Jene, Jan-Berend Stuut: Precession modulation of the South Pacific westerly wind belt over the past million years. PNAS 2019. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1905847116