Ice cap modeling constrained by empirical studies provides an effective way of reconstructing past climates. The former Patagonian ice sheet is in a climatically significant location since it lies athwart the Southern Hemisphere westerlies and responds to the latitudinal migration of climatic belts during glacial cycles. A numerical model of the Patagonian ice cap for the last glacial maximum (LGM) is developed, which is time-dependent and driven by changing the mass balance/altitude relationship. It relies on a vertically integrated continuity model of ice mass solved over a finite difference grid. The model is relatively insensitive to ice flow parameters but highly sensitive to mass balance. The climatic input is adjusted to produce the best fit with the known limits of the ice cap at the LGM. The ice cap extends 1800 km along the Andes and has a volume of 440,000 km3. During the LGM the equilibrium line altitude (ELA) was lower than at present by at least 560 m near latitude 40-degrees-S, 160 m near latitude 50-degrees-S, and 360 m near latitude 56-degrees-S. The latitudinal variation in ELA depression can be explained by an overall fall in temperature of about 3.0-degrees-C and the northward migration of precipitation belts by about 5-degrees latitude. Annual precipitation totals may have decreased by about 0.7 m at latitude 50-degrees-S and increased by about 0.7 m at latitude 40-degrees-S. The ELA rises steeply by up to 4 m per kilometer from west to east as the westerlies cross the Andes and this prevents ice growth to the east. The limited decrease in temperature during the LGM could be related to the modest migration of the Antarctic convergence between South America and the Antarctic Peninsula. (C) 1994 University of Washington.
|Number of pages||19|
|Publication status||Published - Jul 1994|