Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research (Jan 2018)

Middle to late Holocene chronology of the western margin of the Greenland Ice Sheet: A comparison with Holocene temperature and precipitation records

  • Laura B. Levy,
  • Meredith A. Kelly,
  • Patrick A. Applegate,
  • Jennifer A. Howley,
  • Ross A. Virginia

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 50, no. 1


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The response of the Greenland Ice Sheet to future climate change is relatively unconstrained. Determining the extents and rates of ice-margin fluctuations during the Holocene provides a longer-term perspective on ice-sheet changes and offers an analogue of how the ice-sheet may respond to future changes. Here, we present sixteen new 10Be ages of boulders on moraines, boulders perched on bedrock, and bedrock surfaces that mark the timing of ice-margin fluctuations during the Holocene in the Kangerlussuaq region of southern west Greenland. We show that the Keglen moraines date to 8.0 ± 0.3 ka (n = 6) and that the average ice-margin retreat rate slowed from about 49 to 13 m yr−1 after about 8.0 ka, likely in response to the ice margin retreating onto land at the head of the fjord Kangerlussuaq at this time. The average retreat rate further slowed to less than 1 m yr−1 between 6.8 ka and 4.2 cal kyr BP, a time when nearby paleoclimate records document warm summers and increased precipitation. Finally, we show that the historical advances of the ice margin occurred during the past 200 years, likely in response to cooler summer temperatures.