Evidence for the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet divide for 1.4 million years

Hein, A. S., Woodward, J., Marrero, S. M., Dunning, S. A., Steig, E. J., Freeman, S. P.H.T. , Stuart, F. M. , Winter, K., Westoby, M. J. and Sugden, D. E. (2016) Evidence for the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet divide for 1.4 million years. Nature Communications, 7, 10325. (doi:10.1038/ncomms10325) (PMID:26838462) (PMCID:PMC4742792)

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Abstract

Past fluctuations of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) are of fundamental interest because of the possibility of WAIS collapse in the future and a consequent rise in global sea level. However, the configuration and stability of the ice sheet during past interglacial periods remains uncertain. Here we present geomorphological evidence and multiple cosmogenic nuclide data from the southern Ellsworth Mountains to suggest that the divide of the WAIS has fluctuated only modestly in location and thickness for at least the last 1.4 million years. Fluctuations during glacial–interglacial cycles appear superimposed on a long-term trajectory of ice-surface lowering relative to the mountains. This implies that as a minimum, a regional ice sheet centred on the Ellsworth-Whitmore uplands may have survived Pleistocene warm periods. If so, it constrains the WAIS contribution to global sea level rise during interglacials to about 3.3 m above present.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The research was funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council grant numbers NE/I025840/1, NE/I027576/1, NE/I024194/1 and NE/I025263/1.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Stuart, Professor Finlay and Freeman, Professor Stewart
Authors: Hein, A. S., Woodward, J., Marrero, S. M., Dunning, S. A., Steig, E. J., Freeman, S. P.H.T., Stuart, F. M., Winter, K., Westoby, M. J., and Sugden, D. E.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Nature Communications
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2041-1723
ISSN (Online):2041-1723
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 The Authors
First Published:First published in Nature Communications 7:10325
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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