Four North American glaciers advanced past their modern positions thousands of years apart in the Holocene

Jones, Andrew G.; Marcott, Shaun A.; Gorin, Andrew L.; Kennedy, Tori M.; Shakun, Jeremy D.; Goehring, Brent M.; Menounos, Brian; Clark, Douglas H.; Romero, Matias; Caffee, Marc W.

There is unambiguous evidence that glaciers have retreated from their 19th century positions, but it is less clear how far glaciers have retreated relative to their long-term Holocene fluctuations. Glaciers in western North America are thought to have advanced from minimum positions in the Early Holocene to maximum positions in the Late Holocene. We assess when four North American glaciers, located between 38–60inline-formula N, were larger or smaller than their modern (2018–2020 CE) positions during the Holocene. We measured 26 paired cosmogenic in situ inline-formula14C and inline-formula10Be concentrations in recently exposed proglacial bedrock and applied a Monte Carlo forward model to reconstruct plausible bedrock exposure–burial histories. We find that these glaciers advanced past their modern positions thousands of years apart in the Holocene: a glacier in the Juneau Icefield (BC, Canada) at inline-formula∼2 ka, Kokanee Glacier (BC, Canada) at inline-formula∼6 ka, and Mammoth Glacier (WY, USA) at inline-formula∼1 ka; the fourth glacier, Conness Glacier (CA, USA), was likely larger than its modern position for the duration of the Holocene until present. The disparate Holocene exposure–burial histories are at odds with expectations of similar glacier histories given the presumed shared climate forcings of decreasing Northern Hemisphere summer insolation through the Holocene followed by global greenhouse gas forcing in the industrial era. We hypothesize that the range in histories is the result of unequal amounts of modern retreat relative to each glacier's Holocene maximum position, rather than asynchronous Holocene advance histories. We explore the influence of glacier hypsometry and response time on glacier retreat in the industrial era as a potential cause of the non-uniform burial durations. We also report mean abrasion rates at three of the four glaciers: Juneau Icefield Glacier (inline-formula0.3±0.3 mm yrinline-formula−1), Kokanee Glacier (inline-formula0.04±0.03 mm yrinline-formula−1), and Mammoth Glacier (inline-formula0.2±0.2 mm yrinline-formula−1).

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Jones, Andrew G. / Marcott, Shaun A. / Gorin, Andrew L. / et al: Four North American glaciers advanced past their modern positions thousands of years apart in the Holocene. 2023. Copernicus Publications.

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