History of, and mechanisms leading to, post-LGM retreat of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet

Project leader

Funding source

Swedish Research Council - Vetenskapsrådet (VR)

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2009
End date: 31/12/2010
Funding: 1110000 SEK


The proposed project calls for an investigation of mechanisms that led to the retreat of the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) from the Antarctic continental shelf since the Last Glacial Maximum. These potential mechanisms include sea level rise, thinning due to rapid ice stream discharge, subglacial meltwater under-penning, and under-melting by warm deep water. Sediment cores will be acquired and analyzed to obtain constraints on the timing of ice sheet retreat from the continental shelf using radiocarbon ages of the oldest glacial marine deposits overlying till. The multibeam and subbottom profiler on the icebreaker Oden will be used to map geomorphic features, such as grounding line wedges, indicating pauses in the retreat of the ice sheet from the continental shelf, and the depths of iceberg furrows allowing the estimation of the depth of the grounding line when massive calving events associated with ice sheet break-up occurred. The research would focus on areas off Marguerite Bay, Eltanin Bay, Pine Island Bay, off the Getz Ice Shelf and the central Ross Sea. The WAIS is considered to be particularly unstable and the mechanisms causing marine ice sheet collapse are critical to understand for predictions of the behavior of this ice sheet considering the present trend of rising sea level and warming of water masses around Antarctica.

Last updated on 2017-31-03 at 12:58