Late Weichselian relative sea-level changes and ice sheet history in southeast Greenland

Antony J. Long, David H. Roberts, Matthew J. R. Simpson, Sue Dawson, Glenn A. Milne, Philippe Huybrechts

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    Relative sea-level (RSL) observations from the margins of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) provide information regarding the timing and rate of deglaciation and constraints on geophysical models of ice sheet evolution. In this paper we present the first RSL record for the southeast sector of the GIS based on field observations completed close to Ammassalik. The local marine limit is c. 69 m above sea-level (asl) and is dated to c. 11 k cal. yrs BP (thousand calibrated years before present) and is a minimum date for ice free conditions at the study site. RSL fell to c. 24 m asl by 9.5 k cal. yrs BP and continued to fall at a decreasing rate to reach close to present by 6.5 k cal. yrs BP. Our chronology agrees with radiocarbon dates from offshore cores that indicate ice free conditions on the adjacent mid-shelf by 15 k cal. yrs BP. We compare the new RSL data with predictions generated using two recently published glaciological models of the GIS that differ in the amount and timing of ice loading and unloading over our study area. These two GIS models are coupled to the same Earth viscosity model and background (global) ice model to aid in the data-model comparison. Neither model provides a close fit to the RSL observations. Based on a preliminary sensitivity study using a suite of Earth viscosity models, we conclude that the poor data-model fit is most likely due to an underestimate of the local ice unloading. An improved fit could be achieved by delaying the retreat of a thicker ice sheet across the continental shelf. A thick ice sheet extending well onto the continental shelf is in agreement with other recent observations elsewhere in east and south Greenland.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)8-18
    Number of pages11
    JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2008


    • Greenland Ice Sheet
    • Relative sea-level
    • Isolation basin
    • Ice sheet model
    • Isostatic rebound


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