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Bedrock Erosion Surfaces Record Former East Antarctic Ice Sheet Extent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Guy J.G. Paxman
  • Stewart S.R. Jamieson
  • Fausto Ferraccioli
  • Michael J. Bentley
  • Neil Ross
  • Egidio Armadillo
  • Edward G.W. Gasson
  • German Leitchenkov
  • Robert M. DeConto
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4114-4123
Number of pages10
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number9
Early online date9 May 2018
DateAccepted/In press - 14 Apr 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 9 May 2018
DatePublished (current) - 16 May 2018


East Antarctica hosts large subglacial basins into which the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) likely retreated during past warmer climates. However, the extent of retreat remains poorly constrained, making quantifying past and predicted future contributions to global sea level rise from these marine basins challenging. Geomorphological analysis and flexural modeling within the Wilkes Subglacial Basin are used to reconstruct the ice margin during warm intervals of the Oligocene-Miocene. Flat-lying bedrock plateaus are indicative of an ice sheet margin positioned >400–500 km inland of the modern grounding zone for extended periods of the Oligocene-Miocene, equivalent to a 2-m rise in global sea level. Our findings imply that if major EAIS retreat occurs in the future, isostatic rebound will enable the plateau surfaces to act as seeding points for extensive ice rises, thus limiting extensive ice margin retreat of the scale seen during the early EAIS.

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