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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-115
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-115
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 01 Jul 2019

Research article | 01 Jul 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

Thickness of the divide and flank of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet through the last deglaciation

Perry Spector1, John Stone2, and Brent Goehring3 Perry Spector et al.
  • 1Berkeley Geochronology Center, 2455 Ridge Road, Berkeley, CA, USA
  • 2Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
  • 3Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, USA

Abstract. We report cosmogenic-nuclide measurements from two isolated groups of nunataks in West Antarctica: the Pirrit Hills, located midway between the grounding line and the divide in the Weddell Sea sector, and the Whitmore Mountains, located along the Ross-Weddell divide. At the Pirrit Hills, ice reached a highstand ~ 320 m above present during the last glacial period. Subsequent thinning mostly occurred after ~ 14 kyr B.P., and modern ice levels were established some time after ~ 4 kyr B.P. We infer that, like at other flank sites, these changes were primarily controlled by the position of the grounding-line downstream. At the Whitmore Mountains, cosmogenic 14C concentrations in bedrock surfaces demonstrate that ice there was no more than ~ 190 m thicker than present during the past ~ 30 kyr. Combined with other constraints from West Antarctica, the 14C data imply that the divide was thicker than present for a period of less than ~ 8 kyr within the past ~ 15 kyr. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that the divide initially thickened due to the deglacial rise in snowfall, and subsequently thinned in response to retreat of the ice-sheet margin. We use these data to evaluate several recently-published ice-sheet models at the Pirrit Hills and Whitmore Mountains.

Perry Spector et al.
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Short summary
We describe constraints on the thickness of the interior of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) through the last deglaciation. Our data imply that the ice-sheet divide between the Ross and Weddell Sea sectors of the WAIS was thicker than present for a period less that ~ 8 kyr within the past ~ 15 kyr. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that the divide initially thickened due to the deglacial rise in snowfall, and subsequently thinned in response to retreat of the ice-sheet margin.
We describe constraints on the thickness of the interior of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS)...
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