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Antarctic glacial history since the Last Glacial Maximum: an overview of the record on land

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 May 2004

Ólafur Ingólfsson
Göteborg University, Earth Sciences Centre, Box 460, S-405 30 Göteborg, Sweden
Christian Hjort
Lund University, Department of Quaternary Geology, Sölvegatan 13, S–223 62 Lund, Sweden
Paul A. Berkman
Byrd Polar Research Center, The Ohio State University, 108 Scott Hall, 1090 Carmack Road, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
Svante Björck
Geological Institute, University of Copenhagen, Øster Voldgade 10, DK-1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark
Eric Colhoun
Department of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, Newcastle, NSW 2308, Australia
Ian D. Goodwin
Antarctic CRC and SCAR Global Change Programme, GPO Box 252-80, Hobart, TAS 7001, Australia
Brenda Hall
Department of Geological Sciences and Institute for Quaternary Studies, University of Maine at Orono, Orono, ME 04469–5790, USA
Kazuomi Hirakawa
Graduate School of Environmental Earth Sciences, Hokkaido University, N10 W5, Sapporo, 060 Japan
Martin Melles
Alfred Wegener Institute, Research Unit Potsdam, Telegrafenberg A 43, D-14473 Potsdam, Germany
Per Möller
Lund University, Department of Quaternary Geology, Sölvegatan 13, S–223 62 Lund, Sweden
Michael L. Prentice
Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space (EOS), 362 Morse Hall, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824–3525, USA


This overview examines available circum-Antarctic glacial history archives on land, related to developments after the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). It considers the glacial-stratigraphic and morphologic records and also biostratigraphical information from moss banks, lake sediments and penguin rookeries, with some reference to relevant glacial marine records. It is concluded that Holocene environmental development in Antarctica differed from that in the Northern Hemisphere. The initial deglaciation of the shelf areas surrounding Antarctica took place before 10 000 14C yrs before present(BP), and was controlled by rising global sea level. This was followed by the deglaciation of some presently ice-free inner shelf and land areas between 10 000 and 8000 yr BP. Continued deglaciation occurred gradually between 8000 yr BP and 5000 yr BP. Mid-Holocene glacial readvances are recorded from various sites around Antarctica. There are strong indications of a circum-Antarctic climate warmer than today 4700–2000 yr BP. The best dated records from the Antarctic Peninsula and coastal Victoria Land suggest climatic optimums there from 4000–3000 yr BP and 3600–2600 yr BP, respectively. Thereafter Neoglacial readvances are recorded. Relatively limited glacial expansions in Antarctica during the past few hundred years correlate with the Little Ice Age in the Northern Hemisphere.

Earth Sciences
© Antarctic Science Ltd 1998

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