High-resolution, continuous multivariate chemical records from a central Greenland ice core provide a sensitive measure of climate change and chemical composition of the atmosphere over the last 41,000 years. These chemical series reveal a record of change in the relative size and intensity of the circulation system that transported air masses to Greenland [defined here as the polar circulation index (PCI)] and in the extent of ocean ice cover. Massive iceberg discharge events previously defined from the marine record are correlated with notable expansions of ocean ice cover and increases in PCI. During stadials without discharge events, ocean ice cover appears to reach some common maximum level. The massive aerosol loadings and dramatic variations in ocean ice cover documented in ice cores should be included in climate modeling.