Abrupt Cooling of Antarctic Surface Waters and Sea Ice Expansion in the South Atlantic Sector of the Southern Ocean at 5000 cal yr B.P.
Antarctic surface waters were warm and ice free between 10,000 and 5000 cal yr B.P., as judged from ice-rafted debris and microfossils in a piston core at 53°S in the South Atlantic. This evidence shows that about 5000 cal yr B.P., sea surface temperatures cooled, sea ice advanced, and the delivery of ice-rafted detritus (IRD) to the subantarctic South Atlantic increased abruptly. These changes mark the end of the Hypsithermal and onset of Neoglacial conditions. They coincide with an early Neoglacial advance of mountain glaciers in South America and New Zealand between 5400 and 4900 cal yr B.P., rapid middle Holocene climate changes inferred from the Taylor Dome Ice Core (Antarctica), cooling and increased IRD in the North Atlantic, and the end of the African humid period. The near synchrony and abruptness of all these climate changes suggest links among the tropics and both poles that involved nonlinear response to gradual changes in Northern Hemisphere insolation. Sea ice expansion in the Southern Ocean may have provided positive feedback that hastened the end of the Hypsithermal and African humid periods in the middle Holocene.