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Late Quaternary ice-ocean interactions in central West Greenland

MCCARTHY, DAVID,JOHN (2011) Late Quaternary ice-ocean interactions in central West Greenland. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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A greater knowledge of the interactions between the Greenland Ice Sheet and climate is critical to understanding the possible impacts of future global warming, including ice sheet contribution to global sea-level rise and perturbations to ocean circulation. Recent acceleration, thinning and retreat of major tidewater glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica during the past two decades demonstrate the potential for ice sheets to respond to climate change much faster than previously assumed. One approach to understanding the role of atmospheric and oceanic warming to ice sheet dynamics is to investigate how ice sheets responded to past periods of climate change.

This thesis uses benthic foraminifera as a proxy to reconstruct past changes in the temperature of the relatively warm West Greenland Current, to investigate the possible influence of ocean warming on ice sheet dynamics during the initial marine-based deglaciation phase, and throughout the Holocene, when the ice was positioned close to the present margin. This thesis finds that the marine-based ice sheet in central West Greenland collapsed rapidly due to a combination of high relative sea-level and ice sheet thinning due to climatic warming. Foraminiferal evidence does not support a major influence of ocean forcing on initial deglaciation. However, Holocene changes in the relative temperature of the West Greenland Current may have had a more significant influence on ice stream dynamics following the marine-based ice retreat, when outlet glaciers were positioned within coastal fjords. Changes in the relative temperature of the West Greenland Current are determined “upstream” by wider scale changes in the North Atlantic region.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Quaternary Holocene Deglaciation Greenland Foraminifera Palaeoceanography Disko Bugt Uummannaq ice-ocean interactions Environmental reconstruction
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2011
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:06 Jun 2011 15:13

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