Reversible ice sheet thinning in the Amundsen Sea Embayment during the Late Holocene

Cosmogenic-nuclide concentrations in subglacial bedrock cores show that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) at a site between Thwaites and Pope glaciers was at least 35 m thinner than present in the past several thousand years and then subsequently thickened. This is important because of concern that present thinning and grounding line retreat at these and nearby glaciers in the Amundsen Sea Embayment may irreversibly lead to deglaciation of significant portions of the WAIS, with decimeter- to meter-scale sea level rise within decades to centuries. A past episode of ice sheet thinning that took place in a similar, although not identical, climate was not irreversible. We propose that the past thinning–thickening cycle was due to a glacioisostatic rebound feedback, similar to that invoked as a possible stabilizing mechanism for current grounding line retreat, in which isostatic uplift caused by Early Holocene thinning led to relative sea level fall favoring grounding line advance.


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Authors: Balco, Greg, Brown, Nathan, Nichols, Keir, Venturelli, Ryan A., Adams, Jonathan, Braddock, Scott, Campbell, Seth, Goehring, Brent, Johnson, Joanne S. ORCIDORCID record for Joanne S. Johnson, Rood, Dylan H., Wilcken, Klaus, Hall, Brenda, Woodward, John

On this site: Jonathan Adams, Joanne Johnson
28 April, 2023
The Cryosphere / 17
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