The staggered retreat of grounded ice in the Ross Sea, Antarctica, since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM)

Danielson, Matthew A.; Bart, Philip J.

The retreat of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) in the Ross Sea after the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) was more significant than for any other Antarctic sector. Here we combined the available chronology of retreat with new mapping of seismically resolvable grounding zone wedges (GZWs). Mapping GZWs is important because they record the locations of former stillstands in the extent of grounded ice for individual ice streams during the overall retreat. Our analysis shows that the longest stillstands occurred early in the deglacial period and had millennial durations. Stillstands ended abruptly with retreat distances measured in the tens to hundreds of kilometers creating deep embayments in the extent of grounded ice across the Ross Sea. The location of embayments shifted through time. The available chronological data show that cessation of WAIS and East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) stillstands was highly asynchronous across at least 5000 years. There was a general shift to shorter stillstands throughout the deglacial period. The asynchronous collapse of individual catchments during the deglacial period suggests that the Ross Sea sector would have contributed to multiple episodes of relatively small-amplitude sea-level rise as the WAIS and EAIS retreated from the region. The high sinuosity of the modern grounding zone in the Ross Sea suggests that this style of retreat persists.

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Danielson, Matthew A. / Bart, Philip J.: The staggered retreat of grounded ice in the Ross Sea, Antarctica, since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). 2024. Copernicus Publications.

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