Sedimentary response to sea ice and atmospheric variability over the instrumental period off Adélie Land, East Antarctica
Abstract. Diatoms account for a large proportion of primary productivity in Antarctic coastal and continental shelf zones. Diatoms, which have been used for a long time to infer past sea surface conditions in the Southern Ocean, have recently been associated with diatom-specific biomarkers (highly branched isoprenoids, HBI). Our study is one of the few sedimentary research projects on diatom ecology and associated biomarkers in the Antarctic seasonal sea ice zone. To date, the Adélie Land region has received little attention, despite evidence for the presence of high accumulation of laminated sediment, allowing for finer climate reconstructions and sedimentary process studies. Here we provide a sequence of seasonally to annually laminated diatomaceous sediment from a 72.5 cm interface core retrieved on the continental shelf off Adélie Land, covering the 1970–2010 CE period. Investigations through statistical analyses of diatom communities, diatom-specific biomarkers and major element abundances document the relationships between these proxies at an unprecedented resolution. Additionally, comparison of sedimentary records to meteorological data monitored by automatic weather station and satellite derived sea ice concentrations help to refine the relationships between our proxies and environmental conditions over the last decades. Our results suggest a coupled interaction of the atmospheric and sea surface variability on sea ice seasonality, which acts as the proximal forcing of siliceous productivity at that scale.