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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2018-79
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2018-79
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 09 Jul 2018

Research article | 09 Jul 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

Instability of Northeast Siberian ice sheet during glacials

Zhongshi Zhang1,2,3,4, Qing Yan4, Elizabeth J. Farmer5, Camille Li5, Gilles Ramstein6, Terence Hughes7, Martin Jakobsson8,9, Matt O'Regan8,9, Ran Zhang10, Ning Tan6, Camille Contoux6, Christophe Dumas6, and Chuncheng Guo2 Zhongshi Zhang et al.
  • 1Department of Atmospheric Science, School of Environmental studies, China University of Geoscience, Wuhan, 430074, China
  • 2Uni Climate, Uni Research AS and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, 5007 Bergen, Norway
  • 3Center for Early Sapiens Behaviour, 5007 Bergen, Norway
  • 4Nansen-Zhu International Research Center, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 100029, Beijing, China
  • 5Geophysical Institute, University of Bergen and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, 5007 Bergen, Norway
  • 6Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, LSCE/IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris-Saclay, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 7School of Earth and Climate Sciences, Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, Orono, Maine 04469, USA
  • 8Department of Geological Sciences, Stockholm University, 10691, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 9Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, 10691, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 10Climate Change Research Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029, China

Abstract. It has been widely believed that Northeast (NE) Siberia remained ice-free during most Pleistocene Northern Hemisphere (NH) glaciations, while ice sheets extended gradually across North America and Northwest (NW) Eurasia. However, recent fieldwork has provided robust evidence of ice sheets occupying the shallow continental shelf of the East Siberian Sea during several Pleistocene glaciations. The debate surrounding the existence and history of this enigmatic NE Siberian ice sheet highlights fundamental gaps in our current understanding of the mechanisms of glacial climate evolution. Here, we combine climate and ice sheet simulations to demonstrate how ice-vegetation-atmosphere-ocean dynamics can lead to two ice sheet configurations: the well-known Laurentide-Eurasian configuration with large ice sheets over North America and NW Eurasia, and a circum-Arctic configuration with large ice sheets over NE Siberia and the Canadian Rockies. Compared to the Laurentide-Eurasian configuration, formation of the circum-Arctic configuration can occur with an atmospheric stationary wave pattern similar to today's. Once the circum-Arctic configuration is established, it amplifies atmospheric stationary waves, leading to surface warming in the North Pacific, ablation of the NE Siberian ice sheet, and ultimately a swing to the Laurentide-Eurasian configuration. Our simulations highlight the complexity of glacial climates, and may hint towards potential mechanisms for interglacial-glacial transitions.

Zhongshi Zhang et al.
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Our study challenges the widely accepted idea that the Laurentide-Eurasian ice sheets gradually extended across North America and Northwest Eurasia, and suggests the growth of the NH ice sheets is much more complicated. We find climate feedbacks regulate the distribution of the NH ice sheets, producing swings between two distinct ice sheet configurations: the Laurentide-Eurasian and a circum-Arctic configuration, where large ice sheets existed over Northeast Siberia and the Canadian Rockies.
Our study challenges the widely accepted idea that the Laurentide-Eurasian ice sheets gradually...
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