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Conference on the Last Deglaciation: Timing and Mechanism

  • W. F. Ruddiman (a1) and J.-C. Duplessy (a2)

For years paleoclimatologists have held the general view that the last deglaciation began around 17,000 to 15,000 yr ago, that the shape of the globally integrated deglacial curve was smoothly sigmoidal with the fastest rate of change centered around 11,000 yr ago, and that the deglaciation ended around 7000 to 5000 yr ago. Recent studies have challenged several aspects of this consensus and have suggested that the mechanisms responsible for the deglaciation are significantly different from those previously proposed. As a result, an international workshop was held at Airlie House in Virginia during May 2–6 of 1983 to evaluate a wide range of evidence relevant to this controversy. The conference results suggested that (1) the decrease in global ice volume occurred in two steps, with the dating of the earlier step still in doubt, but the later step occurring at about 10,000–7000 yr ago and (2) the most likely feedback mechanisms for accelerating the initial forcing by orbital variations are delayed bedrock rebound, marine downdraw/calving, and CO2 heating.

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Quaternary Research
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