Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


An Interdisciplinary approach towards understanding late Pleistocene ice sheet change Public Deposited

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  • The results presented in this dissertation address a number of questions regarding late Pleistocene and Holocene ice-sheet and climate interactions, spanning disciplines involving paleoclimatology and atmospheric science. These studies use various techniques in geochemistry, climate modeling, and ice-sheet modeling to address ice- sheet response to climate and the attendant interactions between the atmosphere and ice- sheets. An important question in paleoclimatology involves the response of past ice sheets to a warming climate, with the end goal of providing context for understanding the response of future ice sheets to anthropogenic warming. A longstanding question regards the timing and rate of retreat for the Scandinavian Ice Sheet (SIS) during the Holocene. Much work has been done to constrain the retreat of the SIS from the last glacial maximum to the well-defined Younger Dryas moraines, however, little is known regarding the SIS Holocene retreat. Presented is a compilation of 87 ¹⁰Be surface exposure ages from Sweden and Norway. These ages provide a high-resolution reconstruction of the SIS deglaciation during the Holocene, and allow for close comparison with proxies of temperature and insolation. The results suggest an asymmetric deglaciation of the SIS, with retreat forced by both a warming climate and and ice-sheet dynamics depending on time and location. The record also provides a means for evaluating the SIS contribution to Holocene sea-level rise. Combining this with estimates from the Laurentide Ice Sheet and the Greenland Ice Sheet, our results suggest that ~23 m of residual sea-level rise exists at the start of the Holocene. We suggest an Antarctic source, which has implications for understanding the sensitivity of the Antarctic Ice Sheet to Holocene climate change. Ice-sheets exert a large presence on the overlying atmosphere, with these interactions influencing the general circulation and ultimately the surface mass balance of the ice sheet. Prior work has indicated striking differences in the atmospheric circulation between the LGM and present day. Using a fully coupled climate simulation of the last deglaciation, the atmospheric circulation is studied, with respect to the stationary waves and storm tracks. For this study, we focus on the LIS. Our results show an enhanced stationary wave, forced mechanically by the topography of the LIS along western North America, which provides moisture, driven by enhanced ridging. This mechanism provides a positive feedback, whereby a larger ice sheet drives a more positive wintertime mass balance. Eventually, as the ice sheet melts, this stationary wave weakens, and the moisture flux decreases. Over the eastern LIS, coupled atmosphere and ice-sheet dynamics conspire to weaken the storm track at the LGM. As the ice melts, however, the storm track becomes broader and strengthens. The storm track becomes an efficient means for moisture delivery to the eastern LIS, with this relationship strengthening through the deglaciation. We suggest that enhanced wintertime accumulation from the strengthening storm track may have played a strong role in offsetting summertime ablation along the eastern LIS, and thus may be a reason why the LIS terminated over eastern North America. Another longstanding question in paleoclimatology involves the role of CO₂ and insolation on driving the deglaciation of the great Northern hemisphere ice sheets. To investigate this question we one way coupled the 3-dimensional thermomechanical ice- sheet model, Glimmer to climate simulations of the last deglaciation using GENMOM. We first built up a realistic LIS, constrained by the best available reconstructions of the area and volume, by perturbing parameters to obtain the best fit. Once a suitable spun-up LGM LIS was created, we forced the deglaciation of the LIS using climate simulations of the last deglaciation using either varying insolation only, and varying CO₂ only. Our results show similar trends in the deglaciation of the LIS relative to simulations of the deglaciation forced with all forcings (CO₂ and insolation). Upon further inspection, our results prove that the one way coupling scheme is unable to capture the influence of the separate forcings. Instead, the topography boundary condition used to drive the climate simulations dictates the distribution of heat and moisture, and thus the deglaciation. Our results show that in order to properly simulate the response of the LIS to CO₂ and insolation only forcings, an asynchronous coupling scheme or coupled climate-ice-sheet models should be used.
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