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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-2020-57
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2020-57
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 08 May 2020

Submitted as: research article | 08 May 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Younger Dryas ice-margin retreat in Greenland, new evidence from Southwest Greenland

Svend Funder1, Anita H. L. Sørensen2, Nicolaj K. Larsen1, Anders Bjørk3, Jason P. Briner4, Jesper Olsen5, Anders Schomacker6, and Kurt H. Kjær1 Svend Funder et al.
  • 1Globe Institute, University of Copenhagen, 1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark
  • 2Geosyd, 2730 Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 3Department of Geoscience and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, 1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark
  • 4Department of Geology, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14260, USA
  • 5Department of Physics and Astronomy, Aarhus University, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
  • 6Department of Geosciences, UiT, the Arctic University of Norway, N-9037 Tromsø, Norway

Abstract. Cosmogenic 10Be dates from bedrock knobs on six outlying tiny islands along a stretch of 300 km of the Southwest Greenland coast, indicate that the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) margin here was retreating on the inner shelf close to the coast during the Younger Dryas (YD) cold period. A survey of recently published 10Be and 14C-dated records show that this unexpected behaviour of the ice-margin has been seen also in other parts of Greenland, but with very large variations in extent and speed of retreat even between neighbouring areas. In contrast to this, landforms appearing in high resolution bathymetry surveys on the shelf, have recently been suggested to indicate YD readvance or long-lasting ice-margin still stand on mid shelf, far from the coast. However, these features have been dated primarily by correlation with cold periods in the ice core temperature records, and therefore cannot inform about the ice-margin/climate relation. Ice-margin retreat during a YD cooling has been explained by advection of warm subsurface water melting the ice-margin, and by increased seasonality of the climate with the temperature drop mainly in winter, with high impact on sea ice extent and duration, but little effect on glacier mass balance. This study therefore adds to the complexity of the climate/ice-margin relation, where local factors may for some time overrule or mute overall temperature change. It also points to the urgent need for climate-independent dating of the rich treasure trove of information coming from the shelf in these years.

Svend Funder et al.

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Short summary
Cosmogenic 10Be exposure dates from outlying islets along 300 km of the SW Greenland coast indicate that the ice sheet margin here was retreating, not readvancing, and was close to the coast during the Younger Dryas cold period. These results seem to be corroborated by recent studies from other parts of Greenland. With its entire perimeter on the shelf, changes in the North Atlantic Overturning Circulation may have muted the effect of atmospheric temperatures on the Greenland ice sheet margin.
Cosmogenic 10Be exposure dates from outlying islets along 300 km of the SW Greenland coast...
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