Impact of Changing Climate on Andean Glaciers in Sync with Polar Ice

Peer-Reviewed Publication


Lake Junin coring platform

Glaciers in tropical mountain ranges are experiencing similar impact from the drivers of climate change as those in the polar regions of Antarctica and the Northern Hemisphere, according to a study published today in Nature.

The paper by a team of international scientists, including Robert Hatfield, an assistant professor in the University of Florida Department of Geological Sciences, is the first to show that the effects of greenhouse gases and other drivers of the Earth’s temperature are impacting glaciers in the Southern Hemisphere at the same pacing as ice sheets in the north.  To derive their findings, researchers used sedimentary deposits from Lake Junín, high in the Peruvian Andes, to create a record of glacial changes stretching back 700,000 years.

Hatfield explained that much of what scientists knew about past glacial changes came from records of ice growth and decay that occurred in the Northern Hemisphere.

“As we try to understand how climate works across the globe, we need more than just records that are influenced by and biased toward the Northern Hemisphere,” Hatfield said. 

The land-based lake record collected by Hatfield and his colleagues matches the duration of ice core records from Antarctica and spans the longest time frame ever collected from the Southern Hemisphere.

“What makes our findings unique is that we were able to get a continuous and independently dated record of tropical Alpine glaciation for the first time,” he said. “The key takeaway was that the tropics follow the same beat and same rhythm to what’s going on in the Northern Hemisphere.”

Despite variations in solar radiation between the two hemispheres, the study showed glacier changes in both regions occurred at the same time. This suggests that the rise in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations associated with changes in the volume of the ice sheets of the north is influencing the entire planet simultaneously.

When glaciers were extensive in the high Andes, they eroded the mountains around them, sending sediment contained in meltwater to Lake Junín. In warmer times when the glaciers were absent, carbonate was deposited in the lake instead.

To collect their data, geologists launched a massive drilling mission at the lake in 2015, funded by the National Science Foundation and International Continental Scientific Drilling Program. Working around the clock for seven weeks, the group retrieved 100 meters of sediment from the lake’s basin. With the sediment recovered, researchers spent the next few years developing a solid age model.

Christine Y. Chen, a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientist and co-author of the paper, analyzed the uranium and thorium content of the sediments to determine how much time was represented by the sediment core.

“Scientists have known for nearly a century that rising greenhouse gases will affect the climate in every corner of the world, but we’ve been less certain about how rapidly changes in ice volume at the poles will propagate to the rest of the world.” Chen said. “The high-altitude mountains in the tropics are essentially as far away from the poles one can get. We’ve now shown that ice in both regions have been growing and decaying synchronously with one another for nearly a million years, which further highlights the interconnectedness of our planet.”

In 2020, the group published its findings about the age of the sediments and went to work at looking at its climate record. Using a combination of mineral magnetism and sediment geochemistry, geologists reconstructed the timing and magnitude of the glacial changes over the 700,000-year timeframe.

According to Hatfield, the initial plan for the research was formed during a workshop in 2009 and included 27 authors on the final published paper, including its lead author, Donald T. Rodbell, of Union College in Schenectady, New York.






3.4 13 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
July 14, 2022 2:16 am

Ja. Ja. The usual paid for by us clap trap science

Finding climate change where there is none…..
An Inconvenient Truth | Bread on the water

Reply to  HenryP
July 14, 2022 6:10 am

Oh, there is “climate change”, just can’t be blamed on humans. Or an abundance of CO2 caused by human endeavors. What a shame to waste all that money on “scientists” to have a holiday in the Andes, when they could’ve gone to the beaches for less. Funding is the answer to all the questions re: climate change, AGW, etc. Keeps the useless off the streets and outta the pool halls.

Reply to  RevJay4
July 14, 2022 8:04 am

Don’t you know. When they keep the CO2 levels constant in the models, nothing ever changes. This proves that prior to mankind discovering fossil fuels, the climate never changed and was perfect all the time.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  RevJay4
July 14, 2022 10:07 am

Since, with every passing decade and every drastically failed prognostication, we are becoming more certain that CO2 and the lesser GHG are, at best, minor players in climate. Even if the thermal behavior of GHG actually worked the way the consensus thinks, they haven’t come to understand that the other many components of the system are induced naturally to react to resist any changes. They handwave simple feed back equations involving water vapor, but this is a tiny part of what is happening.

The Le Chatelier Principal (LCP) tells us to expect this. Most physicists seem to be unaware of this principal (it should be elevated to a law). Gavin Schmidt recently said that Models are running away too hot and “we dont know why.” The LCP is why, Gavin!

Even if you were able to identify and measure every component of the climate system on a cubic meter granularity, you will not arrive at the right answers by summing their ceteris paribus (all other things remain unchanged) information following a measured change of a component, say CO2 increase.

This, Gavin, is because, in an interactive system, each component changes in generally small ways to resist the change, and the expected change in, say air temperature, is constrained to a fraction of what was calculated. Physicists, 8f you are here o WUWT, please tell that you do know what LCP is to dispense with my suspicions.

William Astley
Reply to  HenryP
July 14, 2022 12:50 pm

The fake science paper ignores the fact that Dansgard-Oschger warming periods are cyclic and the D-O warming periods occur in both glacial and interglacial periods which requires a mechanism that is not dependent on CO2 levels. CO2 level rose because of recent warming. The fake science paper also does not explain the so called polar see-saw which is the fact the Greenland Ice repeatedly warms and at the same time the Antarctic Ice sheet simultaneously cools, with no delay. This is called the polar see-saw.
This is a paper by Svensmark that explains how high latitude cloud cover changes (which are caused by changes to the sun) cause the effect which is called the polar see-saw. Key in Svensmark’s analysis/explanation of the mechanism is the determination from measurement that the albedo of the Antarctic ice sheet region, decreases when the Antarctic is cloudy, because the albedo the Antarctic ice sheet is greater than the top of clouds. The almost constant high speed Antarctic winds, on the surface of ice sheet, breaks up the snow crystals, forming an icy surface, to cause the effect.
Svensmark uses ice sheet bore hole temperature measurement on the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheet to find the cycles of warming and cooling.
The Antarctic climate anomaly and galactic cosmic rays
Borehole temperatures in the ice sheets spanning the past 6000 years show Antarctica repeatedly warming when Greenland cooled, and vice versa (Fig. 1) [13, 14]. North-south oscillations of greater amplitude associated with Dansgaard-Oeschger events are evident in oxygenisotope data from the Wurm-Wisconsin glaciation[15]. The phenomenon has been called the polar see-saw[15, 16], but that implies a north-south symmetry that is absent. Greenland is better coupled to global temperatures than Antarctica is, and the fulcrum of the temperature swings is near the Antarctic Circle. A more apt term for the effect is the Antarctic climate anomaly.
Timing of abrupt climate change: A precise clock by Stefan Rahmstorf

Many paleoclimatic data reveal a approx. 1,500 year cyclicity of unknown origin. A crucial question is how stable and regular this cycle is. An analysis of the GISP2 ice core record from Greenland reveals that abrupt climate events appear to be paced by a 1,470-year cycle with a period that is probably stable to within a few percent; with 95% confidence the period is maintained to better than 12% over at least 23 cycles. This highly precise clock points to an origin outside the Earth system; oscillatory modes within the Earth system can be expected to be far more irregular in period.

Steve Case
July 14, 2022 2:20 am

This suggests that the rise in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations associated with changes in the volume of the ice sheets of the north is influencing the entire planet simultaneously.

That must be it, couldn’t be anything else, no need to look any further.

Philip Mulholland
Reply to  Steve Case
July 14, 2022 4:26 am

Despite variations in solar radiation between the two hemispheres, the study showed glacier changes in both regions occurred at the same time. This suggests that the rise in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations associated with changes in the volume of the ice sheets of the north is influencing the entire planet simultaneously.

Steve, Graemethecat & Alan the Brit

Agreed, this is a one size fits all explanation and is the result of closed agenda-driven minds.

Reply to  Philip Mulholland
July 14, 2022 8:06 am

Despite variations in solar radiation between the two hemispheres

So seasonal variations have no impact on glaciers.

Mary Brown
Reply to  Steve Case
July 14, 2022 5:13 am

Except that now that we have actual comprehensive global temp measurement, observations show that far northern land masses have warmed the most while Antarctica has not warmed at all. The process may look uniform on a paleo time scale, but not in measured, real time.

July 14, 2022 2:22 am

How do they know the changes in ice in the Southern Hemisphere are not caused by changes in insolation? Once again, the authors are making the ASSUMPTION that greenhouse gases are the controlling factor.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Graemethecat
July 14, 2022 2:50 am

I naively thought that science was conducted by open minded scientists, & not making formal conclusions already arrived at before any “study” is made!!! Silly old me, hey!!!

Gunga Din
Reply to  Alan the Brit
July 14, 2022 6:08 am

Cart before the horse.
What’s in the cart is grant money.

Reply to  Graemethecat
July 14, 2022 4:44 am

The main driver of the climate is energy from the sun. If that changes, the climate will change. A decrease in the sun’s energy will affect both hemispheres.

On the other hand, other things, could affect the hemispheres differently.

If we see all the planet’s glaciers growing and shrinking over a time scale of 700,000 years, that implies changes in the sun’s output.

Reply to  commieBob
July 14, 2022 8:02 am

“The main driver….” or more descriptively….

Energy from the sun is very constant. It’s the sun’s energy that is reflected by the randomly varying approximately 65% cloud cover of the planet that controls the amount of energy reaching us down here at ground level that determines our weather and climate, over a 30+ year timeframe.
That amount of cloud cover and its altitude is controlled by how much and how fast water vapor evaporates from the sunlit surface.

Reply to  Graemethecat
July 14, 2022 8:12 am

Well that was the intent of the research, find any data tidbit that can bolster the climate emergency mantra – not the usual increase knowledge, improve science, etc., etc., and ignore the evidence that shows anything different, like the satellite temp measurements that show marked different things going on between the hemispheres.

Climate science is political science.

July 14, 2022 2:43 am

ice in both regions have been growing and decaying synchronously with one another for nearly a million years

nearly 100% of which was prior to human CO2 production.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  AndyHce
July 14, 2022 2:51 am

Please, no inconvenient truths, thank you. 😉

Ron Long
July 14, 2022 3:07 am

The only possible thing these educated idiots have demonstrated (short of scientific proof) is that for the last 700,000 years the climate has cycled between colder and warmer without any input from humans. This goes along with the observation that sea level has fluctuated for the last million years, both higher and much lower than current, without any human influence, ie, naturally. There is no anthropogenic signal discernable against the noisy background of natural climate cycles.

Reply to  Ron Long
July 14, 2022 4:41 am


Old Man Winter
Reply to  Ron Long
July 14, 2022 5:44 am

Ron, isn’t it proper protocol for you and/or AndyHce (2:43am) to thank the team of scientists for
showing natural variability over the past 700k yrs? I’ve seen that done on Twitter & I would think
Nature would love to hear such positive feedback on one of their articles. People always enjoy being
thanked, especially if their help was inadvertent, like in this case! 😉

Ron Long
Reply to  Old Man Winter
July 14, 2022 6:25 am

Thank You! (sarc)

July 14, 2022 3:17 am

Well, it is a fine piece of scripture. The Church will approve.

impact from the drivers of climate change (worse than we thought)

a team of international scientists (authority; the seal of approval)

“The key takeaway was that the tropics follow the same beat and same rhythm to what’s going on in the Northern Hemisphere.”

Which seems unlikely when in 2012…

“The focus is on the two poles like never before, especially after reports this week that sea-ice at the Arctic had reached a record low. But as websites and news agencies pumped out this alarming headline, others called for calm. Arctic loss was being matched by Antarctic gain…”

Apparently, they are having record cold in parts of South America… you know in the Southern hemisphere, where the Andes are…

Argentina (Patagonia) too, I believe.

 “the drivers of climate change”

 They would be the politics, the outrageous scientific skew by funding and/or cancellation etc, and the division sown in society. Older people (boomers, I suppose) haven’t been through the indoctrination process that has crippled the younger with an increasingly miserablist outlook and now an opposition to democratic basics like free speech.

Still this study kept them off the streets.

Mike Edwards
July 14, 2022 5:25 am

I suggest that everyone goes and reads this paper – unusually, it isn’t paywalled. The details are very interesting and tell a story different to that in the press release above. Figures 3 & 4 and the text relating to them are the key material.

Reply to  Mike Edwards
July 14, 2022 7:14 am

I would echo what Mike Edwards says here. Read the article. Even you very busy people can probably afford to spend the 10 minutes it will take to read the text. It bears almost no resemblance to the ‘summary’ that accompanies it.

What I read in the article is some well-planned and excellently conducted empirical work, using a great deal of creativity in deciding how to elicit useful information from what had been jumbled and incoherent materials and substrates. The authors are very modest in interpreting their results – they see similar long-duration changes in the Andes mountains that have been previously seen in other parts of the world.

This contrasts almost totally from the kind of modeling work usually presented in Nature and other alarmist magazines – computer modeling done by overfed and overpaid professors sitting in their offices in State College or Boulder – people who wouldn’t know a sediment core if they stumbled across it.

I have read Watts Up for many years and am continually amazed by the wisdom, skill, and experience of the vast majority of the readers and responders. Much of the commentary on this article so far does not reveal much of that in-depth knowledge.

H. D. Hoese
Reply to  BillW
July 14, 2022 8:02 am

It is true that one must read the article and it does seem to be real data rather than full of hypotheticals. I have zero experience with such, except been in a few high mountains, but questions do arise as to the wisdom that 27 authors provided. They do have an acknowledgments, technological measurements are essential, but is one (“Here a piston core….”) important sample worthy of conclusions? Maybe so. One of the obvious attributes in many areas of science today is the considerable hubris, not new, but was more constrained. It does affect the reasonable science that sometimes hides in the hype.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  BillW
July 14, 2022 11:07 am

Another example of the ‘Executive Summary’ taking precedence over the science.

Reply to  Mike Edwards
July 14, 2022 7:59 am

I read the article. None of the editorial BS about climate change in the paper, it is all in the propaganda article

Reply to  GORDON
July 14, 2022 12:56 pm

Spot on. “In sync” is all that the paper reports. And that would be expected as the temperature of foodstuffs in a freezer are “in sync” with the thermostat on the exterior. And if some solar phenomenon is involved, we also might eventually discover Martian glaciers to be “in sync” with terrestrial polar ice.

In the long run this observation may come back to bite them the same way the Little Ice Age / MWP eventually had to be de-synced from the Keeling Curve / CO2 record. One less degree of freedom for the climate modelers… so, lets wait and see. IMHO

Tom Abbott
July 14, 2022 5:51 am

From the article: “This suggests that the rise in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations associated with changes in the volume of the ice sheets of the north is influencing the entire planet simultaneously.”

The only association with greenhouse gases and volumes of ice sheets is in your mind. You are assuming they are associated, without evidence.

Tom Abbott
July 14, 2022 5:53 am

From the article: ““Scientists have known for nearly a century that rising greenhouse gases will affect the climate in every corner of the world,”

No, some scientists have assumed this, without any evidence to back up their assumptions. They don’t “know” anything of the kind.

Tom Abbott
July 14, 2022 5:55 am

From the article: “We’ve now shown that ice in both regions have been growing and decaying synchronously with one another for nearly a million years, which further highlights the interconnectedness of our planet.”

What you haven’t shown is a connection with CO2.

July 14, 2022 6:00 am

From the Abstract:
 Here a piston core from Lake Junín in the uppermost Amazon basin provides the first, to our knowledge, continuous, independently dated archive of tropical glaciation spanning 700,000 years. We find that tropical glaciers tracked changes in global ice volume and followed a clear approximately 100,000-year periodicity.”

Note: ” a clear approximately 100,000-year periodicity.” I wonder where we are, today, in the periodicity cycle, eh?

Mike Edwards
Reply to  Yooper
July 14, 2022 11:09 am

Look at Figure 3b in the paper. Note the curve turning downwards at the left hand side, which corresponds to the most recent times. This is historically more typical of the end of an interglacial and the onset of a new glacial period.

The true meaning of this isn’t clear – the curves in 3a, 3b and 3c don’t line up perfectly in time, so it is hard to understand which curve is really representative of the temperature fluctuations of the Earth associated with glacial/interglacial transitions. It may be that activity in the Andes is indeed not perfectly linked with growth and shrinkage of ice sheets in the polar regions. Or perhaps the dating used for these curves is inaccurate in some way.

Jim Gorman
July 14, 2022 6:03 am

I guess I see a different conclusion from this. The study has inadvertently shown that the Medieval Warm Period and others plus the Little Ice Age probably occurred simultaneously. That destroys the argument that there is no data that these were global in nature.

Mike Edwards
Reply to  Jim Gorman
July 14, 2022 11:13 am

I don’t think the time resolution of this study can say anything about the MWP – it is simply too coarse.

Steve Z.
July 14, 2022 6:40 am

Re: “We have now shown that ice in both regions have been growing and decaying synchronously with one another for nearly a million years…”

What do I not understand about this statement? 20,000 years ago, half of North America was covered with ice. Did the same thing happen in South America? First time I heard about that!

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Steve Z.
July 14, 2022 8:22 am

There was a fairly lengthy ice sheet along the Andes in Patagonia and the southern tip of South America.

Mike Edwards
Reply to  Steve Z.
July 14, 2022 11:16 am

Ice expanded right around the world during the last glacial period – the ice in the southern hemisphere was nowhere near the extent of the ice sheets covering North America and Eurasia, but it was larger than today. This study gives data for the ice sheets in a section of the Andes.

July 14, 2022 7:02 am

And here I thought we were just coming out of the Little Ice Age.

July 14, 2022 9:26 am

NASA has competing teams with contradictory findings about antarctic ice mass. The latest paper was “Not much happening here” — maybe a little loss and gain at very small quantities. The other side of NASA says “ice is melting like mad…danger!”.

What this study seems to have confirmed is that the Earth has warmed and cooled globally over the millennia.

Mike Edwards
Reply to  Kip Hansen
July 14, 2022 11:22 am

Right – although the leading theory relating to the ice ages concerns changing solar input at 65N (or so) and its impact on ice sheet growth and decay in N America and Eurasia, the overall temperature of the Earth as a whole went up and down in synchrony with the changes in the northern hemisphere. That is what this paper throws light on – it got colder everywhere and ice grew in the southern hemisphere as ice grew in the northern hemisphere.

The mismatches in timing shown in Fig 3 are interesting and are worthy of further study.

Reply to  Mike Edwards
July 14, 2022 4:27 pm

Mike ==> I don’t know anyone saying anything seriously different — but it is good to see a study confirming th Earth can and has warmed as a whole.

Dave Fair
July 14, 2022 11:01 am

Assuming that GHGs were also responsible for the growth as well as the decay of tropical glaciers throughout the late Quaternary, the mechanism(s)23 linking orbital forcing, NH ice sheets, GHGs and tropical glaciation must have been relatively rapid, as evidenced by the lack of measurable lag time in tropical ice core records of the last deglacial temperature rise24.” In plain language: Orbital forcing drives NH ice sheets that drive worldwide GHG concentrations that drive tropical glaciers.

I don’t know if this study proved the above sequence of events. Opinions?

James F. Evans
July 14, 2022 11:40 am

Receding Glaciers are perhaps the strongest evidence of AGW (to laymen, average Joes).

But there is evidence glaciers have been receding since before man-made CO2 could have been the cause.

Please help me if I’m incorrect, but I am led to understand glaciers have been receding since about 1815, well before people were contributing significant amounts of CO2.

Pin down this issue of glacier recession and AGW takes a big hit.

And, as Schmidt says….”the models are running too HOT.”

Almost all models have been wrong in the last 20 years… predicting higher temperatures than were recorded in reality.

Mike Edwards
Reply to  James F. Evans
July 17, 2022 8:15 am

Varies. Some glaciers started retreating in early 19th century, others much later around the start of 20th century.

Clyde Spencer
July 14, 2022 5:18 pm

The last glacial cycle in the Junín region was punctuated by intervals of abrupt glacial retreat, …

Reading the main paper, I was struck by the above quote. One frequently reads claims about unprecedented modern warming, or unprecedented glacial retreat. From the above quote, it would appear that such rapid changes are the norm, rather than being “unprecedented.”

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights