Collaborative Research: Constraining West Antarctic Ice Sheet elevation during the last interglacial
Projecting future changes in West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) volume and global sea level rise in response to anthropogenic climate warming requires dynamic ice sheet models, which are enhanced by testing and calibrating with geologic evidence. Successfully modeling WAIS behavior during past collapse events provides a basis for predictions of future sea level change. Exposure ages of erratics and bedrock throughout west Antarctica constrain higher-than-present WAIS geometry during the LGM and the last deglaciation. Quantifying the past surface elevation from the interior of the ice sheet is especially useful as it directly constrains ice thickness and volume where most of the mass is located. Data that determines WAIS geometry during the last interglacial, the last time that climate was warmer than present and when global sea level was 3-6 m higher, is critical for empirically constraining changes in WAIS volume and its contribution to sea level, as well as, to calibrate ice sheet models. These datasets are essentially non- existent, as such evidence is now covered by the WAIS. Initial results from ground-penetrating radar surveys indicate ice depths around 1200 m.
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