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Stability of the Antarctic Ice Sheet during the pre-Industrial Holocene

Jones, R. and Johnson, J. and Lin, Y. and Mackintosh, A. and Sefton, J. and Smith, J. and Thomas, E. and Whitehouse, P. (2022) 'Stability of the Antarctic Ice Sheet during the pre-Industrial Holocene.', Nature Reviews Earth & Environment .


The rate and magnitude of the Antarctic Ice Sheet (AIS) contribution to global sea-level rise beyond 2100 CE remains highly uncertain. Past changes of the AIS, however, offer opportunities to understand contemporary and future ice sheet behaviour. In this Review, we outline how the AIS evolved through the pre-industrial Holocene, 11,700 years ago to 1850 CE. Three main phases of ice sheet behaviour are identified: a period of rapid ice volume loss across all sectors in the Early and Mid Holocene; a retreat inland of the present-day ice sheet margin in some sectors, followed by readvance; and continued ice volume loss in several sectors during the past few millennia, and in some areas up to and into the industrial era. Global sea levels rose by 2.4–12 m owing to the period of rapid Antarctic ice loss and possibly fell by 0.35–1.2 m owing to subsequent readvance. Changes in the AIS during the Holocene were likely driven by similar processes to those acting today and predicted for the future, which are associated with oceanic and atmospheric conditions as well as bed topography. Further work is required to better understand these processes and to quantify Antarctica’s contribution to past sea-level change.

Item Type:Article
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo until 12 January 2023.
(AM) Accepted Manuscript
File format - PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:This version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review (when applicable) and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at:
Date accepted:13 May 2022
Date deposited:07 June 2022
Date of first online publication:12 July 2022
Date first made open access:12 January 2023

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