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Modeling the marine extent of Northern Hemisphere ice sheets during the last glacial cycle

  • Chris Zweck (a1) and Philippe Huybrechts (a1)

Mechanisms that determine time-dependent changes of the marine ice margin in dynamic ice-sheet models are important but poorly understood. Here we derive an empirical formulation for changes in the marine extent when modelling the Northern Hemisphere ice sheets over the last glacial cycle in a three-dimensional thermomechanically coupled ice-sheet model. We assume that the strongest control on changes in marine extent is ice calving, and that the variable most crucial to calving is water depth. The empirical marine-extent relationship is tuned so that the major marine-retreat history of the Laurentide and Eurasian ice sheets is modelled accurately in time and space. We find that this empirical treatment relating marine extent to water depth is sufficient to reproduce the observations, and discuss the implications for the physics of marine margin changes and the dynamics of the Northern Hemisphere ice sheets since the Last Glacial Maximum.

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Annals of Glaciology
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