Seasonal variations in aridity and temperature characterize changing climate during the last deglaciation in New Zealand

Elisabeth L. Sikes, Patricia M. Medeiros, Paul Augustinus, Janet M. Wilmshurst, Katherine R. Freeman

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New multiproxy records of aridity from northern New Zealand assess the seasonality and overall pattern of wetness through the Last Glacial Coldest Period (LGCP) to the early Holocene in the subtropical Southwest Pacific. Biomass burning indicators based on terrestrial biomarkers and δ13C of individual plant leaf wax carbon compounds (n-alkanoic acids) from a maar lake were used to track aridity. In combination with published sea surface temperatures and new pollen-based temperature estimates from the same core, seasonal climatological changes in the Auckland area were determined from 27 to 9cal.kaBP. These proxies document a shift from cold and dry conditions in the Last Glacial Maximum to seasonally wetter conditions through the deglaciation. Spring became warmer first and possibly wetter while summers remained drier and initially cooler. The progression from cold-dry to warm-wet was punctuated by the Antarctic Cold Reversal (ACR) which stands out as having wetter conditions in both spring and summer and mild cooling largely concentrated in spring. The seasonal climate trends observed here can be plausibly explained by a rapid change from a subpolar climate to one with subtropical control in this region of the southwest Pacific across the Last Glacial to Interglacial transition. A southerly shift and decreasing intensity of the westerly wind belt after the LGCP is considered to have driven the early deglacial warming and pulse of wetness whereas a northward shift without a commensurate increase in intensity of the westerlies may explain conditions in the ACR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-256
Number of pages12
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
StatePublished - Aug 5 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Geology


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