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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023
  3. 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 ofmore »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.« less
  4. Abstract We leverage a data set of >720 shell-bearing marine deposits throughout southeastern Alaska (USA) to develop updated relative sea-level curves that span the past ∼14,000 yr. This data set includes site location, elevation, description when available, and 436 14C ages, 45 of which are published here for the first time. Our sea-level curves suggest a peripheral forebulge developed west of the retreating Cordilleran Ice Sheet (CIS) margin between ca. 17,000 and 10,800 calibrated yr B.P. By 14,870 ± 630 to 12,820 ± 340 cal. yr B.P., CIS margins had retreated from all of southeastern Alaska's fjords, channels, and passages. At this time, isolated or stranded ice caps existed on the islands, with alpine or tidewater glaciers in many valleys. Paleoshorelines up to 25 m above sea level mark the maximum elevation of transgression in the southern portion of the study region, which was achieved by 11,000 ± 390 to 10,500 ± 420 cal. yr B.P. The presence of Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax) and the abundance of charcoal in sediments that date between 11,000 ± 390 and 7630 ± 90 cal. yr B.P. suggest that both ocean and air temperatures in southeastern Alaska were relatively warm in the early Holocene.more »The sea-level and paleoenvironmental reconstruction presented here can inform future investigations into the glacial, volcanic, and archaeological history of southeastern Alaska.« less
  5. Abstract Understanding marine-terminating ice sheet response to past climate transitions provides valuable long-term context for observations of modern ice sheet change. Here, we reconstruct the last deglaciation of marine-terminating Cordilleran Ice Sheet (CIS) margins in Southeast Alaska and explore potential forcings of western CIS retreat. We combine 27 new cosmogenic 10 Be exposure ages, 13 recently published 10 Be ages, and 25 new 14 C ages from raised marine sediments to constrain CIS recession. Retreat from the outer coast was underway by 17 ka, and the inner fjords and sounds were ice-free by 15 ka. After 15 ka, the western margin of the CIS became primarily land-terminating and alpine glaciers disappeared from the outer coast. Isolated alpine glaciers may have persisted in high inland peaks until the early Holocene. Our results suggest that the most rapid phase of CIS retreat along the Pacific coast occurred between ~17 and 15 ka. This retreat was likely driven by processes operating at the ice-ocean interface, including sea level rise and ocean warming. CIS recession after ~15 ka occurred during a time of climatic amelioration in this region, when both ocean and air temperatures increased. These data highlight the sensitivity of marine-terminating CIS regionsmore »to deglacial climate change.« less
  6. Summer warming is driving a greening trend across the Arctic, with the potential for large-scale amplification of climate change due to vegetation-related feedbacks [Pearson et al.,Nat. Clim. Chang.(3), 673–677 (2013)]. Because observational records are sparse and temporally limited, past episodes of Arctic warming can help elucidate the magnitude of vegetation response to temperature change. The Last Interglacial ([LIG], 129,000 to 116,000 y ago) was the most recent episode of Arctic warming on par with predicted 21st century temperature change [Otto-Bliesner et al.,Philos. Trans. A Math. Phys. Eng. Sci.(371), 20130097 (2013) and Post et al.,Sci.Adv. (5), eaaw9883 (2019)]. However, high-latitude terrestrial records from this period are rare, so LIG vegetation distributions are incompletely known. Pollen-based vegetation reconstructions can be biased by long-distance pollen transport, further obscuring the paleoenvironmental record. Here, we present a LIG vegetation record based on ancient DNA in lake sediment and compare it with fossil pollen. Comprehensive plant community reconstructions through the last and current interglacial (the Holocene) on Baffin Island, Arctic Canada, reveal coherent climate-driven community shifts across both interglacials. Peak LIG warmth featured a ∼400-km northward range shift of dwarf birch, a key woody shrub that is again expanding northward. Greening of the High Arctic—documented heremore »by multiple proxies—likely represented a strong positive feedback on high-latitude LIG warming. Authenticated ancient DNA from this lake sediment also extends the useful preservation window for the technique and highlights the utility of combining traditional and molecular approaches for gleaning paleoenvironmental insights to better anticipate a warmer future.

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  7. 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 Holocenemore »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.« less