Abstract

Recent ice-mass loss driven by warming along the Antarctic Peninsula has resulted in rapid changes in uplift rates across the region. Are such events only a function of recent warming? If not, does the Earth response to such events last long enough to be preserved in Holocene records of relative sea level (RSL), and thus have a bearing on global-scale glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) models (e.g. ICE-6G)? Answering such questions in Antarctica is hindered by the scarcity of RSL reconstructions within the region. Here, a new RSL reconstruction for Antarctica is presented based on beach ridges from Joinville Island on the Antarctic Peninsula. We find that RSL has fallen 4.9 ± 0.58 m over the past 3100 yr, and that the island experienced a significant increase in the rate of RSL fall from 1540 ± 125 cal. (calibrated) yr B.P. to 1320 ± 125 cal. yr B.P. This increase in the rate of RSL fall is likely due to the viscoelastic response of the solid Earth to terrestrial ice-mass loss from the Antarctic Peninsula, similar to the Earth response experienced after ice-mass loss following acceleration of glaciers behind the collapsed Larsen B ice shelf in 2002 C.E. Additionally, slower rates of beach-ridge progradation from 695 ± 190 cal. yr B.P. to 235 ± 175 cal. yr B.P. potentially reflect erosion of beach ridges from a RSL rise induced by a local glacial advance. The rapid response of the Earth to minor ice-mass changes recorded in the RSL record further supports recent assertions of a more responsive Earth to glacial unloading and at time scales relevant for GIA of Holocene and Pleistocene sea levels. Thus, current continental and global GIA models may not accurately capture the ice-mass changes of the Antarctic ice sheets at decadal and centennial time scales.

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