Mid-Holocene Antarctic sea-ice increase driven by marine ice sheet retreat

Kate Ashley, Robert McKay, Johan Etourneau, Francis Jimenez-Espejo, Alan Condron, Anna Albot, Xavier Crosta, Christina Riesselman, Osamu Seki, Guillaume Massé, Nicholas Golledge, Edward Gasson, Daniel Lowry, Nicholas Barrand, Katelyn Johnson, Nancy Bertler, Carlota Escutia, Robert Dunbar, James Bendle*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
128 Downloads (Pure)


Over recent decades Antarctic sea-ice extent has increased, alongside widespread ice shelf thinning and freshening of waters along the Antarctic margin. In contrast, Earth system models generally simulate a decrease in sea ice. Circulation of water masses beneath large-cavity ice shelves is not included in current Earth System models and may be a driver of this phenomena. We examine a Holocene sediment core off East Antarctica that records the Neoglacial transition, the last major baseline shift of Antarctic sea ice, and part of a late-Holocene global cooling trend. We provide a multi-proxy record of Holocene glacial meltwater input, sediment transport, and sea-ice variability. Our record, supported by high-resolution ocean modelling, shows that a rapid Antarctic sea-ice increase during the mid-Holocene (∼ 4.5 ka) occurred against a backdrop of increasing glacial meltwater input and gradual climate warming. We suggest that mid-Holocene ice shelf cavity expansion led to cooling of surface waters and sea-ice growth that slowed basal ice shelf melting. Incorporating this feedback mechanism into global climate models will be important for future projections of Antarctic changes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalClimate of the Past
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Financial support. This research has been supported by the Natural Environment Research Council (CENTA PhD; NE/L002493/1 and Standard Grant Ne/I00646X/1), Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS/FF2/60 no. L-11523), NZ Marsden Fund (grant nos. 18-VUW-089 and 15-VUW-131), NSF (grant nos. PLR-1443347 and ACI-1548562), the U.S. Dept. of Energy (grant no. DE-SC0016105), ERC (StG ICEPROXY, 203441; ANR CLIMICE, FP7 Past4Future, 243908), L’Oréal-UNESCO New Zealand For Women in Science Fellowship, University of Otago Research Grant, the IODP U.S. Science Support Program, Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (grant no. CTM2017-89711-C2-1-P), and the European Union (FEDER).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Royal Society of Chemistry. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Stratigraphy
  • Palaeontology


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