Eight glacial cycles from an Antarctic ice core

Nature, Vol. 429, 10, p. 623-628, 2004

EPICA community members:
L. Augustin, J.M. Barnola, J. Chappellaz, B. Delmonte, G. Durand, F. Parrenin, J.-R. Petit, D. Raynaud, C. Ritz and J. Weiss
Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l'Environnement (CNRS), BP 96, 38402 St Martin d'H ères Cedex, France
C. Barbante
Environmental Sciences Department, University of Venice, Calle Larga S. Marta, 2137, I-30123 Venice, Italy
P.R.F. Barnes, G.C. Littot, R. Mulvaney, D.A. Peel and E.W. Wolff
British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK
M. Bigler, J. Flückiger, P. Kaufmann, F. Lambert, J. Schwander, U. Siegenthaler, B. Stauffer and T.F. Stocker
Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Institute, University of Bern, Sidlerstrasse 5, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland
E. Castellano and R. Udisti
Department of Chemistry-Analytical Chemistry Section, Scientific Pole-University of Florence, Via della Lastruccia 3, 50019 Sesto Fiorentino (Florence), Italy
O. Cattani, G. Dreyfus, S. Falourd, J. Jouzel, V. Masson-Delmotte and F. Parrenin
Institut Pierre Simon Laplace/Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, UMR CEA-CNRS 1572, CE Saclay, Orme des Merisiers, 91191 Gif-Sur-Yvette, France
D. Dahl-Jensen, S.J. Johnsen and J.P. Steffensen
Geofysisk Afdeling, Niels Bohr Instituttet for Astronomi, Fysik og Geofysik, Københavns Universitet
B. Delmonte, V. Maggi and G. Orombelli
University of Milano-Bicocca, Dipartimento di Scienze Ambiente e Territorio, Piazza della Scienza 1, I-20126 Milan, Italy
H. Fischer, P. Huybrechts, J. Kipfstuhl, H. Miller, H. Oerter, U. Ruth and F. Wilhelms
Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar- und Marine Research (AWI), Postfach 120161, D-27515 Bremerhaven, Germany
M.E. Hansson
Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
G. Jugie
Institut Polaire Français-Paul Emile Victor (IPEV), BP 75, 29280 Plouzane, France
V.Y. Lipenkov
Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, 38 Beringa Street, 199397 St Petersburg, Russia
A. Longinelli
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Parma, Parco Area delle Scienze 157/A, I-43100 Parma, Italy
R. Lorrain and R. Souchez
Département des Sciences de la Terre et de l'Environnement, Faculté des Sciences, CP 160/03, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 50 avenue FD Roosevelt, B1050 Brussels, Belgium
J. Oerlemans, R.S.W. van de Wal and M. van den Broeke
Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht (IMAU), Princetonplein 5, 3584 CC Utrecht, The Netherlands
B. Stenni
Department of Geological, Environmental and Marine Sciences, University of Trieste, Via E. Weiss 2, I-34127 Trieste, Italy
I.E. Tabacco
Earth Science Department, University of Milan, Via Cicognara 7, 20129 Milano, Italy
J.-G. Winther
Norwegian Polar Institute, N-9296 Tromsø, Norway
M. Zucchelli
ENEA, CRE Casaccia, PO Box 2400, Via Anguillarese 301, 00060 S. Maria di Galleria (RM), Italy

The Antarctic Vostok ice core provided compelling evidence of the nature of climate, and of climate feedbacks, over the past 420,000 years. Marine records suggest that the amplitude of climate variability was smaller before that time, but such records are often poorly resolved. Moreover, it is not possible to infer the abundance of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from marine records. Here we report the recovery of a deep ice core from Dome C, Antarctica, that provides a climate record for the past 740,000 years. For the four most recent glacial cycles, the data agree well with the record from Vostok. The earlier period, between 740,000 and 430,000 years ago, was characterized by less pronounced warmth in interglacial periods in Antarctica, but a higher proportion of each cycle was spent in the warm mode. The transition from glacial to interglacial conditions about 430,000 years ago (Termination V) resembles the transition into the present interglacial period in terms of the magnitude of change in temperatures and greenhouse gases, but there are significant differences in the patterns of change. The interglacial stage following Termination V was exceptionally long - 28,000 years compared to, for example, the 12,000 years recorded so far in the present interglacial period. Given the similarities between this earlier warm period and today, our results may imply that without human intervention, a climate similar to the present one would extend well into the future.