Repeated large-scale retreat and advance of Totten Glacier indicated by inland bed erosion

Alan Aitken, J.L. Roberts, T.D. Van Ommen, D.A. Young, N.R. Golledge, J.S. Greenbaum, D.D. Blankenship, M.J. Siegert

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    33 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    © 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.Climate variations cause ice sheets to retreat and advance, raising or lowering sea level by metres to decametres. The basic relationship is unambiguous, but the timing, magnitude and sources of sea-level change remain unclear; in particular, the contribution of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) is ill defined, restricting our appreciation of potential future change. Several lines of evidence suggest possible collapse of the Totten Glacier into interior basins during past warm periods, most notably the Pliocene epoch, causing several metres of sea-level rise. However, the structure and long-term evolution of the ice sheet in this region have been understood insufficiently to constrain past ice-sheet extents. Here we show that deep ice-sheet erosion - enough to expose basement rocks - has occurred in two regions: the head of the Totten Glacier, within 150 kilometres of today € s grounding line; and deep within the Sabrina Subglacial Basin, 350-550 kilometres from this grounding line. Our results, based on ICECAP aerogeophysical data, demarcate the marginal zones of two distinct quasi-stable EAIS configurations, corresponding to the € modern-scale € ice sheet (with a marginal zone near the present ice-sheet margin) and the retreated ice sheet (with the marginal zone located far inland). The transitional region of 200-250 kilometres in width is less eroded, suggesting shorter-lived exposure to eroding conditions during repeated retreat-advance events, which are probably driven by ocean-forced instabilities. Representative ice-sheet models indicate that the global sea-level increase resulting from retreat in this sector can be up to 0.9 metres in the modern-scale configuration, and exceeds 2 metres in the retreated configuration.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)385-389
    JournalNature
    Volume533
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

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    Glaciers
    Ice
    Erosion
    Sea level
    Electric grounding
    Long Term Evolution (LTE)
    Rocks

    Cite this

    Aitken, A., Roberts, J. L., Van Ommen, T. D., Young, D. A., Golledge, N. R., Greenbaum, J. S., ... Siegert, M. J. (2016). Repeated large-scale retreat and advance of Totten Glacier indicated by inland bed erosion. Nature, 533, 385-389. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature17447
    Aitken, Alan ; Roberts, J.L. ; Van Ommen, T.D. ; Young, D.A. ; Golledge, N.R. ; Greenbaum, J.S. ; Blankenship, D.D. ; Siegert, M.J. / Repeated large-scale retreat and advance of Totten Glacier indicated by inland bed erosion. In: Nature. 2016 ; Vol. 533. pp. 385-389.
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    title = "Repeated large-scale retreat and advance of Totten Glacier indicated by inland bed erosion",
    abstract = "{\circledC} 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.Climate variations cause ice sheets to retreat and advance, raising or lowering sea level by metres to decametres. The basic relationship is unambiguous, but the timing, magnitude and sources of sea-level change remain unclear; in particular, the contribution of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) is ill defined, restricting our appreciation of potential future change. Several lines of evidence suggest possible collapse of the Totten Glacier into interior basins during past warm periods, most notably the Pliocene epoch, causing several metres of sea-level rise. However, the structure and long-term evolution of the ice sheet in this region have been understood insufficiently to constrain past ice-sheet extents. Here we show that deep ice-sheet erosion - enough to expose basement rocks - has occurred in two regions: the head of the Totten Glacier, within 150 kilometres of today € s grounding line; and deep within the Sabrina Subglacial Basin, 350-550 kilometres from this grounding line. Our results, based on ICECAP aerogeophysical data, demarcate the marginal zones of two distinct quasi-stable EAIS configurations, corresponding to the € modern-scale € ice sheet (with a marginal zone near the present ice-sheet margin) and the retreated ice sheet (with the marginal zone located far inland). The transitional region of 200-250 kilometres in width is less eroded, suggesting shorter-lived exposure to eroding conditions during repeated retreat-advance events, which are probably driven by ocean-forced instabilities. Representative ice-sheet models indicate that the global sea-level increase resulting from retreat in this sector can be up to 0.9 metres in the modern-scale configuration, and exceeds 2 metres in the retreated configuration.",
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    Aitken, A, Roberts, JL, Van Ommen, TD, Young, DA, Golledge, NR, Greenbaum, JS, Blankenship, DD & Siegert, MJ 2016, 'Repeated large-scale retreat and advance of Totten Glacier indicated by inland bed erosion' Nature, vol. 533, pp. 385-389. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature17447

    Repeated large-scale retreat and advance of Totten Glacier indicated by inland bed erosion. / Aitken, Alan; Roberts, J.L.; Van Ommen, T.D.; Young, D.A.; Golledge, N.R.; Greenbaum, J.S.; Blankenship, D.D.; Siegert, M.J.

    In: Nature, Vol. 533, 2016, p. 385-389.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Repeated large-scale retreat and advance of Totten Glacier indicated by inland bed erosion

    AU - Aitken, Alan

    AU - Roberts, J.L.

    AU - Van Ommen, T.D.

    AU - Young, D.A.

    AU - Golledge, N.R.

    AU - Greenbaum, J.S.

    AU - Blankenship, D.D.

    AU - Siegert, M.J.

    PY - 2016

    Y1 - 2016

    N2 - © 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.Climate variations cause ice sheets to retreat and advance, raising or lowering sea level by metres to decametres. The basic relationship is unambiguous, but the timing, magnitude and sources of sea-level change remain unclear; in particular, the contribution of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) is ill defined, restricting our appreciation of potential future change. Several lines of evidence suggest possible collapse of the Totten Glacier into interior basins during past warm periods, most notably the Pliocene epoch, causing several metres of sea-level rise. However, the structure and long-term evolution of the ice sheet in this region have been understood insufficiently to constrain past ice-sheet extents. Here we show that deep ice-sheet erosion - enough to expose basement rocks - has occurred in two regions: the head of the Totten Glacier, within 150 kilometres of today € s grounding line; and deep within the Sabrina Subglacial Basin, 350-550 kilometres from this grounding line. Our results, based on ICECAP aerogeophysical data, demarcate the marginal zones of two distinct quasi-stable EAIS configurations, corresponding to the € modern-scale € ice sheet (with a marginal zone near the present ice-sheet margin) and the retreated ice sheet (with the marginal zone located far inland). The transitional region of 200-250 kilometres in width is less eroded, suggesting shorter-lived exposure to eroding conditions during repeated retreat-advance events, which are probably driven by ocean-forced instabilities. Representative ice-sheet models indicate that the global sea-level increase resulting from retreat in this sector can be up to 0.9 metres in the modern-scale configuration, and exceeds 2 metres in the retreated configuration.

    AB - © 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.Climate variations cause ice sheets to retreat and advance, raising or lowering sea level by metres to decametres. The basic relationship is unambiguous, but the timing, magnitude and sources of sea-level change remain unclear; in particular, the contribution of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) is ill defined, restricting our appreciation of potential future change. Several lines of evidence suggest possible collapse of the Totten Glacier into interior basins during past warm periods, most notably the Pliocene epoch, causing several metres of sea-level rise. However, the structure and long-term evolution of the ice sheet in this region have been understood insufficiently to constrain past ice-sheet extents. Here we show that deep ice-sheet erosion - enough to expose basement rocks - has occurred in two regions: the head of the Totten Glacier, within 150 kilometres of today € s grounding line; and deep within the Sabrina Subglacial Basin, 350-550 kilometres from this grounding line. Our results, based on ICECAP aerogeophysical data, demarcate the marginal zones of two distinct quasi-stable EAIS configurations, corresponding to the € modern-scale € ice sheet (with a marginal zone near the present ice-sheet margin) and the retreated ice sheet (with the marginal zone located far inland). The transitional region of 200-250 kilometres in width is less eroded, suggesting shorter-lived exposure to eroding conditions during repeated retreat-advance events, which are probably driven by ocean-forced instabilities. Representative ice-sheet models indicate that the global sea-level increase resulting from retreat in this sector can be up to 0.9 metres in the modern-scale configuration, and exceeds 2 metres in the retreated configuration.

    U2 - 10.1038/nature17447

    DO - 10.1038/nature17447

    M3 - Article

    VL - 533

    SP - 385

    EP - 389

    JO - Nature

    JF - Nature

    SN - 0028-0836

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    Aitken A, Roberts JL, Van Ommen TD, Young DA, Golledge NR, Greenbaum JS et al. Repeated large-scale retreat and advance of Totten Glacier indicated by inland bed erosion. Nature. 2016;533:385-389. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature17447