Articles | Volume 6, issue 3
The Cryosphere, 6, 687–693, 2012
The Cryosphere, 6, 687–693, 2012

Brief communication 27 Jun 2012

Brief communication | 27 Jun 2012

Brief communication "Can recent ice discharges following the Larsen-B ice-shelf collapse be used to infer the driving mechanisms of millennial-scale variations of the Laurentide ice sheet?"

J. Alvarez-Solas3,1,2, A. Robinson3,1, and C. Ritz4 J. Alvarez-Solas et al.
  • 1Dpto. Astrofísica y Ciencias de la Atmósfera, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain
  • 2Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement (LSCE), UMR8212, France
  • 3Campus de Exelencia Internacional (CEI), Instituto de Geociencias (IGEO), CSIS-UCM, Spain
  • 4Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l'Environnement, UJF-Grenoble 1 – CNRS, LGGE, UMR5183, Grenoble, 38041, France

Abstract. The effects of an ice-shelf collapse on inland glacier dynamics have recently been widely studied, especially since the breakup of the Antarctic Peninsula's Larsen-B ice shelf in 2002. Several studies have documented acceleration of the ice streams that were flowing into the former ice shelf. The mechanism responsible for such a speed-up lies with the removal of the ice-shelf backforce. Independently, it is also well documented that during the last glacial period, the Northern Hemisphere ice sheets experienced large discharges into the ocean, likely reflecting ice flow acceleration episodes on the millennial time scale. The classic interpretation of the latter is based on the existence of an internal thermo-mechanical feedback with the potential to generate oscillatory behavior in the ice sheets. Here we would like to widen the debate by considering that Larsen-B-like glacial analog episodes could have contributed significantly to the registered millennial-scale variablity.