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Modeling the marine extent of Northern Hemisphere ice sheets during the last glacial cycle

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Mechanisms that determine time-dependent changes of the marine ice margin in dynamic ice-sheet models are important but poorly understood. Here we derive an empirical formulation for changes in the marine extent when modelling the Northern Hemisphere ice sheets over the last glacial cycle in a three-dimensional thermomechanically coupled ice-sheet model. We assume that the strongest control on changes in marine extent is ice calving, and that the variable most crucial to calving is water depth. The empirical marine-extent relationship is tuned so that the major marine-retreat history of the Laurentide and Eurasian ice sheets is modelled accurately in time and space. We find that this empirical treatment relating marine extent to water depth is sufficient to reproduce the observations, and discuss the implications for the physics of marine margin changes and the dynamics of the Northern Hemisphere ice sheets since the Last Glacial Maximum.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2003-06-01

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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