Pliocene Paleoclimate and East Antarctic Ice-Sheet History from Surficial Ash Deposits

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Science  30 Apr 1993:
Vol. 260, Issue 5108, pp. 667-670
DOI: 10.1126/science.260.5108.667


The preservation, age, and stratigraphic relation of an in situ ashfall layer with an underlying desert pavement in Arena Valley, southern Victoria Land, indicate that a cold-desert climate has persisted in Arena Valley during the past 4.3 million years. These data indicate that the present East Antarctic Ice Sheet has endured for this time and that average temperatures during the Pliocene in Arena Valley were no greater than 3°C above present values. One implication is that the collapse of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet due to greenhouse warming is unlikely, even if global atmospheric temperatures rise to levels last experienced during mid-Pliocene times.

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