Dynamic Antarctic ice sheet during the early to mid-Miocene

Edward Gasson*, Robert M. DeConto, David Pollard, Richard H. Levy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Geological data indicate that there were major variations in Antarctic ice sheet volume and extent during the early to mid-Miocene. Simulating such large-scale changes is problematic because of a strong hysteresis effect, which results in stability once the ice sheets have reached continental size. A relatively narrow range of atmospheric CO2 concentrations indicated by proxy records exacerbates this problem. Here, we are able to simulate large-scale variability of the early to mid-Miocene Antarctic ice sheet because of three developments in our modeling approach. (i) We use a climate-ice sheet coupling method utilizing a high-resolution atmospheric component to account for ice sheet-climate feedbacks. (ii) The ice sheet model includes recently proposed mechanisms for retreat into deep subglacial basins caused by ice-cliff failure and ice-shelf hydrofracture. (iii)We account for changes in the oxygen isotopic composition of the ice sheet by using isotope-enabled climate and ice sheet models. We compare our modeling results with ice-proximal records emerging from a sedimentological drill core from the Ross Sea (Andrill-2A) that is presented in a companion article. The variability in Antarctic ice volume that we simulate is equivalent to a seawater oxygen isotope signal of 0.52-0.66‰, or a sea level equivalent change of 30-36 m, for a range of atmospheric CO2 between 280 and 500 ppm and a changing astronomical configuration. This result represents a substantial advance in resolving the long-standing model data conflict of Miocene Antarctic ice sheet and sea level variability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3459-3464
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume113
Issue number13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2016

Keywords

  • Antarctic ice sheet
  • Miocene
  • Oxygen isotopes
  • Sea level

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