Report

Millennial-Scale Instability of the Antarctic Ice Sheet During the Last Glaciation

Science  09 Jun 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5472, pp. 1815-1819
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5472.1815

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Abstract

Records of ice-rafted detritus (IRD) concentration in deep-sea cores from the southeast Atlantic Ocean reveal millennial-scale pulses of IRD delivery between 20,000 and 74,000 years ago. Prominent IRD layers correlate across the Polar Frontal Zone, suggesting episodes of Antarctic Ice Sheet instability. Carbon isotopes (δ13C) of benthic foraminifers, a proxy of deepwater circulation, reveal that South Atlantic IRD events coincided with strong increases in North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) production and inferred warming (interstadials) in the high-latitude North Atlantic. Sea level rise or increased NADW production associated with strong interstadials may have resulted in destabilization of grounded ice shelves and possible surging in the Weddell Sea region of West Antarctica.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: skanfou{at}ufl.edu (S.L.K.) and dhodell{at}geology.ufl.edu (D.A.H.)

  • Present address: Borehole Research Group, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964, USA.

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