Hillenbrand, C-D et al. (2013): Sedimentological and geophysical investigation of sediment cores from the Amundsen Sea. doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.751493, Supplement to:Hillenbrand, Claus-Dieter; Kuhn, Gerhard; Smith, James A; Gohl, Karsten; Graham, Alastair GC; Larter, Robert D; Klages, Johann Philipp; Downey, Rachel; Moreton, Steven Grahame; Forwick, Matthias; Vaughan, David G (2013): Grounding-line retreat of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet from inner Pine Island Bay. Geology, 41(1), 35-38, doi:10.1130/G33469.1
Ice loss from the marine-based, potentially unstable West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) contributes to current sea-level rise and may raise sea level by up to 3.3 to 5 meters in the future. Over the past few decades, glaciers draining the WAIS into the Amundsen Sea Embayment (ASE) have shown accelerated ice flow, rapid thinning and grounding-line retreat. However, the long-term context of this ice-sheet retreat is poorly constrained, limiting our ability to accurately predict future WAIS behaviour. Here we present a new chronology for WAIS retreat from the inner continental shelf of the eastern ASE based on radiocarbon dates from three marine sediment cores. The ages document a retreat of the grounding line to within ~93 km of its modern position before 11.7±0.7 kyr BP (thousand years before present). This early deglaciation is consistent with ages for grounding-line retreat from the western ASE. Our new data demonstrate that, other than in the Ross Sea, WAIS retreat in the ASE has not continued progressively since the Last Glacial Maximum. Furthermore, our results suggest that the grounding-line position in the ASE was predominantly stable throughout the Holocene, and that any episodes of fast retreat similar to that observed today must have been short-lived. Alternatively, today's rapid retreat was unprecedented during the Holocene. Therefore, the current ice loss must originate in recent changes in regional climate, ocean circulation or ice-sheet dynamics. Incorporation of these results into models is essential to produce robust predictions of future ice-sheet change and its contribution to sea-level rise.