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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 23 Aug 2018

Research article | 23 Aug 2018

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

The Antarctic Ice Sheet response to glacial millennial scale variability

Javier Blasco1,2, Ilaria Tabone1,2, Jorge Alvarez-Solas1,2, Alexander Robinson1,2, and Marisa Montoya1,2 Javier Blasco et al.
  • 1Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain
  • 2Instituto de Geociencias, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas-Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain

Abstract. The Antarctic Ice Sheet (AIS) is the largest ice sheet on Earth and hence a major potential contributor to future global sea-level rise. A wealth of studies suggest that increasing oceanic temperatures could cause a collapse of its marine-based western sector, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, through the mechanism of marine ice-sheet instability, leading to a sea-level increase of 3–5m. Thus, it is crucial to constrain the sensitivity of the AIS to rapid climate changes. The Last Glacial Period is an ideal benchmark period for this purpose as it was punctuated by abrupt Dansgaard-Oeschger events at millennial timescales. Because their centre of action was in the North Atlantic, where their climate impacts were largest, modelling studies have mainly focused on the millennial-scale evolution of Northern Hemisphere (NH) paleo ice sheets. Sea-level reconstructions attribute the origin of millennial-scale sea-level variations mainly to NH paleo ice sheets, with a minor but not negligible role to the AIS. Here we investigate the AIS response to millennial-scale climate variability for the first time. To this end we use a three-dimensional, thermomechanical hybrid, ice-sheet-shelf model. Different oceanic sensitivities are tested and the sea-level equivalent (SLE) contributions computed. We find that whereas atmospheric variability has no appreciable effect on the AIS, changes in submarine melting rates can have a strong impact on it. We show that in contrast to the widespread assumption that the AIS is a slow reactive and static ice sheet that responds at orbital timescales only, it can lead to ice discharges of almost 15m of SLE involving substantial grounding line migrations at millennial timescales.

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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
The LGP is a period punctuated by the presence of several abrupt climate events and sea-level variations of up to 20 m at millennial timescales. The origin of those fluctuations are attributed to NH paleo ice-sheets, however a contribution from the AIS can not be excluded. Here, for the first time, we investigate the response of the AIS to millennial climate variability using an ice-sheet-shelf model. We shows that the AIS produces substantial sea-level rises as well as grounding line migrations.
The LGP is a period punctuated by the presence of several abrupt climate events and sea-level...