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Abstract Tropical glaciers have retreated alongside warming temperatures over the past century, yet the way in which these trends fit into a long-term geological context is largely unclear. Here, we present reconstructions of Holocene glacier extents relative to today from the Quelccaya ice cap (Peru) and the Rwenzori Mountains (Uganda) based on measurements of in situ14C and 10Be from recently exposed bedrock. Ice-extent histories are similar at both sites and suggest that ice was generally smaller than today during the first half of the Holocene and larger than today for most, if not all, of the past several millennia. The similar glaciation history in South America and Africa suggests that large-scale warming followed by cooling of the tropics during the late Holocene primarily drove ice extent, rather than regional changes in precipitation. Our results also imply that recent tropical ice retreat is anomalous in a multimillennial context.
10Be age constraints on latest Pleistocene and Holocene cirque glaciation across the western United States
Well-dated records of alpine glacier fluctuations provide important insights into the temporal and spatial structure of climate variability. Cirque moraine records from the western United States have historically been interpreted as a resurgence of alpine glaciation in the middle-to-late Holocene (i.e., Neoglaciation), but these moraines remain poorly dated because of limited numerical age constraints at most locations. Here we present 13010Be ages on 19 moraines deposited by 14 cirque glaciers across this region that have been interpreted as recording these Neoglacial advances. Our10Be chronology indicates instead that these moraines were deposited during the latest Pleistocene to earliest Holocene, with several as old as 14–15ka. Our results thus show that glaciers retreated from their Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) extent into cirques relatively early during the last deglaciation, experienced small fluctuations during the Bølling–Allerød–Younger Dryas interval, and remained within the maximum limit of the Little Ice Age (LIA) advance of the last several centuries throughout most of the Holocene. Climate modeling suggests that increasing local summer insolation and greenhouse gases were the primary controls on early glacier retreat from their LGM positions. We then infer that subsequent intrinsic climate variability and Younger Dryas cooling caused minor fluctuations during the latest Pleistocene,more »