Journal cover Journal topic
Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2017-27
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
20 Mar 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).
Episodic Neoglacial expansion and rapid 20th Century retreat of a small ice cap on Baffin Island, Arctic Canada and modeled temperature change
Simon L. Pendleton1, Gifford H. Miller1, Robert A. Anderson1, Sarah E. Crump1, Yafang Zhong2, Alexandra Jahn3, and Áslaug Geirsdottir4 1INSTAAR and Department of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0450, USA
2Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA
3INSTAAR and Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0450, USA
4Department of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland, Askja, Sturlugata 7, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Abstract. Records of Neoglacial glacier activity in the Arctic constructed from moraines are often incomplete due to a preservation bias toward the most extensive advance, usually the Little Ice Age. Recent warming in the Arctic has caused extensive retreat of glaciers over the past several decades, exposing preserved landscapes complete with in situ tundra plants previously entombed by ice. The radiocarbon ages of these plants define the timing of snowline depression and glacier advance across the site, in response to local summer cooling. Although most dead plants recently exposed by ice retreat are rapidly removed from the landscape by erosion, where erosive processes are unusually weak, dead plants may remain preserved on the landscape for decades. In such settings, a transect of plant radiocarbon ages can be used to construct a near-continuous chronology of past ice margin advance. Here we present radiocarbon dates from the first such transect on Baffin Island, which directly dates the advance of a small ice cap over the past two millennia. The nature of ice expansion between 20 BCE and ~1000 CE is still uncertain, but episodic advances at ~ 1000, ~ 1200, and ~ 1500 CE led to the maximum Neoglacial dimensions ~ 1900 CE. We employ a two-dimensional numerical glacier model to reconstruct the pattern of ice expansion inferred from the radiocarbon ages and to explore the sensitivity of the ice cap to temperature change. Model experiments show that at least ~ 0.44 °C of cooling over the past 2 ka is required for the ice cap to reach its 1900 margin, and that the period from ~ 1000 to 1900 CE must have been at least 0.25 °C cooler than the previous millennium; results that agree with regional climate model simulations. However, ~ 3 °C of warming since 1900 CE is required to explain retreat to its present position, and, at the same rate of warming, the ice cap will disappear before 2100 CE.

Citation: Pendleton, S. L., Miller, G. H., Anderson, R. A., Crump, S. E., Zhong, Y., Jahn, A., and Geirsdottir, Á.: Episodic Neoglacial expansion and rapid 20th Century retreat of a small ice cap on Baffin Island, Arctic Canada and modeled temperature change, Clim. Past Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2017-27, in review, 2017.
Simon L. Pendleton et al.
Simon L. Pendleton et al.
Simon L. Pendleton et al.

Viewed

Total article views: 596 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)

HTML PDF XML Total Supplement BibTeX EndNote
456 85 55 596 25 5 51

Views and downloads (calculated since 20 Mar 2017)

Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 20 Mar 2017)

Viewed (geographical distribution)

Total article views: 596 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)

Thereof 596 with geography defined and 0 with unknown origin.

Country # Views %
  • 1

Saved

Discussed

Latest update: 23 Sep 2017
Publications Copernicus
Download
Short summary
Recent warming in the high latitudes has prompted the accelerated retreat of ice caps and glaciers, especially in the Canadian Arctic. Here we use the radiocarbon age of preserved plants being exposed by shrinking ice caps that once entombed them. These ages help us to constrain the timing and magnitude of climate change on southern Baffin Island over the past ~ 2000 years. Our results show episodic cooling up until ~ 1900 CE, followed by accelerated warming through present.
Recent warming in the high latitudes has prompted the accelerated retreat of ice caps and...
Share