Southern hemisphere westerlies 

Madre de Dios Chile stalagmiteSpeleothems are a valuable source of high-resolution palaeoclimate data that are well-constrained with absolute U-Th chronology. Yet there are significant gaps in the worldwide coverage of speleothem stable isotope records, including areas of significant interest for understanding climate evolution.

Palaeoclimate records from southern Chile provide regional climate data that help to bridge the gap between tropical- and Antarctic-based records. This location is also strategically placed for understanding inter-hemispheric climate linkages. Indeed, the insolation regime is out-of-phase with that of the northern-mid-latitudes, it is located to the windward side of the Andes under the direct influence of the south-westerlies and is far removed from the direct influence of Northern Hemisphere ice sheets and sheltered from sites of North Atlantic Ocean thermohaline convection (Moreno et al. (2001)).

Five stalagmite samples covering the last 13ka (41 U-Th ages) from Madre de Dios island, Chile, provide the first high resolution, terrestrial δ18O and δ13C records from 50ºS. The high-resolution nature of these stalagmite results is unique in capturing abrupt climate events from this latitude, whilst the absolute chronology allows temporal comparison with other regions.


Dr. Chris Day, Dr. Louise Maurice (BGS), Kathryn Martin, Charles Porter, Prof. Brenda Hall (University of Maine, USA), Prof. Gideon Henderson



MDD northern plateau