- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- The Cryosphere
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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Abstract. Chronologies of glacier deposits in the Transantarctic Mountains provide important constraints on grounding-line retreat during the last deglaciation in the Ross Sea. However, between Beardmore Glacier and Ross Island – a distance of some 600 km – the existing chronologies are generally sparse and far from the modern grounding line, leaving the past dynamics of this vast region largely unconstrained. We present exposure ages of glacial deposits at three locations alongside the Darwin–Hatherton Glacier System – including within 10 km of the modern grounding line – that record several hundred meters of Late Pleistocene to Early Holocene thickening relative to present. As the ice sheet grounding line in the Ross Sea retreated, Hatherton Glacier thinned steadily from about 9 until about 3 ka. Our data are equivocal about the maximum thickness and Mid-Holocene to Early Holocene history at the mouth of Darwin Glacier, allowing for two conflicting deglaciation scenarios: (1) ∼500 m of thinning from 9 to 3 ka, similar to Hatherton Glacier, or (2) ∼950 m of thinning, with a rapid pulse of ∼600 m thinning at around 5 ka. We test these two scenarios using a 1.5-dimensional flowband model, forced by ice thickness changes at the mouth of Darwin Glacier and evaluated by fit to the chronology of deposits at Hatherton Glacier. The constraints from Hatherton Glacier are consistent with the interpretation that the mouth of Darwin Glacier thinned steadily by ∼500 m from 9 to 3 ka. Rapid pulses of thinning at the mouth of Darwin Glacier are ruled out by the data at Hatherton Glacier. This contrasts with some of the available records from the mouths of other outlet glaciers in the Transantarctic Mountains, many of which thinned by hundreds of meters over roughly a 1000-year period in the Early Holocene. The deglaciation histories of Darwin and Hatherton glaciers are best matched by a steady decrease in catchment area through the Holocene, suggesting that Byrd and/or Mulock glaciers may have captured roughly half of the catchment area of Darwin and Hatherton glaciers during the last deglaciation. An ensemble of three-dimensional ice sheet model simulations suggest that Darwin and Hatherton glaciers are strongly buttressed by convergent flow with ice from neighboring Byrd and Mulock glaciers, and by lateral drag past Minna Bluff, which could have led to a pattern of retreat distinct from other glaciers throughout the Transantarctic Mountains.more » « less
Projections of Antarctica's contribution to future sea level rise are associated with significant uncertainty, in part because the observational record is too short to capture long‐term processes necessary to estimate ice mass changes over societally relevant timescales. Records of grounding line retreat from the geologic past offer an opportunity to extend our observations of these processes beyond the modern record and to gain a more comprehensive understanding of ice‐sheet change. Here, we present constraints on the timing and inland extent of deglacial grounding line retreat in the southern Ross Sea, Antarctica, obtained via direct sampling of a subglacial lake located 150 km inland from the modern grounding line and beneath >1 km of ice. Isotopic measurements of water and sediment from the lake enabled us to evaluate how the subglacial microbial community accessed radiocarbon‐bearing organic carbon for energy, as well as where it transferred carbon metabolically. Using radiocarbon as a natural tracer, we found that sedimentary organic carbon was microbially translocated to dissolved carbon pools in the subglacial hydrologic system during the 4.5‐year period of water accumulation prior to our sampling. This finding indicates that the grounding line along the Siple Coast of West Antarctica retreated more than 250 km inland during the mid‐Holocene (6.3 ± 1.0 ka), prior to re‐advancing to its modern position.
In order to document changes in Holocene glacier extent and activity in
NEGreenland (~73° N) we study marine sediment records that extend from the fjords ( PS2631 and PS2640), across the shelf ( PS2623 and PS2641), to the Greenland Sea ( JM07‐174 GC). The primary bedrock geology of the source areas is the Caledonian sediment outcrop, including Devonian red beds, plus early Neoproterozoic gneisses and early Tertiary volcanics. We examine the variations in colour ( CIE*), grain size, and bulk mineralogy (from X‐ray diffraction of the <2 mm sediment fraction). Fjord core PS2640 in Sofia Sund, with a marked red hue, is distinct in grain size, colour and mineralogy from the other fjord and shelf cores. Five distinct grain‐size modes are distinguished of which only one is associated with a coarse ice‐rafting signal – this mode is rare in the mid‐ and late Holocene. A sediment unmixing program (SedUnMix MC) is used to characterize down‐core changes in sediment composition based on the upper late Holocene sediments from cores PS2640 (Sofia Sund), PS2631 (Kaiser Franz Joseph Fjord) and PS2623 (south of Shannon Is), and surface samples from the Kara Sea (as an indicator of transport from the Russian Arctic shelves). Major changes in mineral composition are noted in all cores with possible coeval shifts centred c. 2.5, 4.5 and 7.5 cal. ka BP(±0.5 ka) but are rarely linked with changes in the grain‐size spectra. Coarse IRD(>2 mm) and IRD‐grain‐size spectra are rare in the last 9–10 cal. ka BPand, in contrast with areas farther south (~68° N), there is no distinct IRDsignal at the onset of neoglaciation. Our paper demonstrates the importance of the quantitative analysis of sediment properties in clarifying source to sink changes in glacial marine environments.
Abstract. Sometime during the middle to late Holocene (8.2 ka to ∼ 1850–1900 CE), the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) was smaller than its currentconfiguration. Determining the exact dimensions of the Holocene ice-sheetminimum and the duration that the ice margin rested inboard of its currentposition remains challenging. Contemporary retreat of the GrIS from itshistorical maximum extent in southwestern Greenland is exposing a landscapethat holds clues regarding the configuration and timing of past ice-sheetminima. To quantify the duration of the time the GrIS margin was near itsmodern extent we develop a new technique for Greenland that utilizes in situcosmogenic 10Be–14C–26Al in bedrock samples that have becomeice-free only in the last few decades due to the retreating ice-sheet margin atKangiata Nunaata Sermia (n=12 sites, 36 measurements; KNS), southwest Greenland. To maximizethe utility of this approach, we refine the deglaciation history of the regionwith stand-alone 10Be measurements (n=49) and traditional 14C agesfrom sedimentary deposits contained in proglacial–threshold lakes. We combineour reconstructed ice-margin history in the KNS region with additionalgeologic records from southwestern Greenland and recent model simulations ofGrIS change to constrain the timing of the GrIS minimum in southwestGreenland and the magnitude of Holocene inland GrIS retreat, as well as to explore theregional climate history influencing Holocene ice-sheet behavior. Our10Be–14C–26Al measurements reveal that (1) KNS retreated behindits modern margin just before 10 ka, but it likely stabilized near thepresent GrIS margin for several thousand years before retreating fartherinland, and (2) pre-Holocene 10Be detected in several of our sample sitesis most easily explained by several thousand years of surface exposure duringthe last interglaciation. Moreover, our new results indicate that the minimumextent of the GrIS likely occurred after ∼5 ka, and the GrISmargin may have approached its eventual historical maximum extent as early as∼2 ka. Recent simulations of GrIS change are able to match thegeologic record of ice-sheet change in regions dominated by surface massbalance, but they produce a poorer model–data fit in areas influenced by oceanicand dynamic processes. Simulations that achieve the best model–data fitsuggest that inland retreat of the ice margin driven by early to middleHolocene warmth may have been mitigated by increased precipitation. Triple10Be–14C–26Al measurements in recently deglaciated bedrockprovide a new tool to help decipher the duration of smaller-than-present iceover multiple timescales. Modern retreat of the GrIS margin in southwestGreenland is revealing a bedrock landscape that was also exposed during themigration of the GrIS margin towards its Holocene minimum extent, but it has yetto tap into a landscape that remained ice-covered throughout the entireHolocene.more » « less
Abstract. Numerical simulations of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) over geologictimescales can greatly improve our knowledge of the critical factors drivingGrIS demise during climatically warm periods, which has clear relevance forbetter predicting GrIS behavior over the upcoming centuries. To assess thefidelity of these modeling efforts, however, observational constraints ofpast ice sheet change are needed. Across southwestern Greenland, geologicrecords detail Holocene ice retreat across both terrestrial-based and marine-terminating environments, providing an ideal opportunity to rigorouslybenchmark model simulations against geologic reconstructions of ice sheetchange. Here, we present regional ice sheet modeling results using theIce-sheet and Sea-level System Model (ISSM) of Holocene ice sheet historyacross an extensive fjord region in southwestern Greenland covering thelandscape around the Kangiata Nunaata Sermia (KNS) glacier and extendingoutward along the 200 km Nuup Kangerula (Godthåbsfjord). Oursimulations, forced by reconstructions of Holocene climate and recentlyimplemented calving laws, assess the sensitivity of ice retreat across theKNS region to atmospheric and oceanic forcing. Our simulations reveal thatthe geologically reconstructed ice retreat across the terrestrial landscapein the study area was likely driven by fluctuations in surface mass balancein response to Early Holocene warming – and was likely not influencedsignificantly by the response of adjacent outlet glaciers to calving andocean-induced melting. The impact of ice calving within fjords, however,plays a significant role by enhancing ice discharge at the terminus, leadingto interior thinning up to the ice divide that is consistent withreconstructed magnitudes of Early Holocene ice thinning. Our results,benchmarked against geologic constraints of past ice-margin change, suggestthat while calving did not strongly influence Holocene ice-margin migrationacross terrestrial portions of the KNS forefield, it strongly impactedregional mass loss. While these results imply that the implementation andresolution of ice calving in paleo-ice-flow models is important towardsmaking more robust estimations of past ice mass change, they also illustratethe importance these processes have on contemporary and future long-term icemass change across similar fjord-dominated regions of the GrIS.more » « less