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The effect of a Holocene climatic optimum on the evolution of the Greenland ice sheet during the last 10 kyr



The Holocene climatic optimum was a period 8–5 kyr ago when annual mean surface temperatures in Greenland were 2–3°C warmer than present-day values. However, this warming left little imprint on commonly used temperature proxies often used to derive the climate forcing for simulations of the past evolution of the Greenland ice sheet. In this study, we investigate the evolution of the Greenland ice sheet through the Holocene when forced by different proxy-derived temperature histories from ice core records, focusing on the effect of sustained higher surface temperatures during the early Holocene. We find that the ice sheet retreats to a minimum volume of ~0.15–1.2 m sea-level equivalent smaller than present in the early or mid-Holocene when forcing an ice-sheet model with temperature reconstructions that contain a climatic optimum, and that the ice sheet has continued to recover from this minimum up to present day. Reconstructions without a warm climatic optimum in the early Holocene result in smaller ice losses continuing throughout the last 10 kyr. For all the simulated ice-sheet histories, the ice sheet is approaching a steady state at the end of the 20th century.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Correspondence: Christine S. Hvidberg <>


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