Global glacier dynamics during 100 ka Pleistocene glacial cycles

04 Jun 2018

Ice volume during the last ten 100 ka glacial cycles was driven by solar radiation flux in the northern hemisphere. Early minima in solar radiation combined with critical levels of atmospheric CO2 drove initial glacier expansion. Glacial cycles between MIS 24-13, whilst at 100 ka periodicity, were irregular in amplitude and the shift to the largest amplitude 100 ka glacial cycles occurs after MIS 16. Mountain glaciers in the mid-latitudes and Asia reached their maximum extents early in glacial cycles then retreated as global climate became increasingly arid. In contrast, larger ice masses close to maritime moisture sources continued to build-up and dominated global glacial maxima reflected in marine isotope and sea-level records. The effect of this pattern of glaciation on the state of the global atmosphere is evident in dust records from Antarctic ice cores where pronounced double peaks in dust flux occur in all of the last eight glacial cycles. Glacier growth is strongly modulated by variations in solar radiation, especially in glacial inceptions. This external control accounts for ~50-60% of ice volume change through glacial cycles. Internal global glacier-climate dynamics account for the rest of the change which is controlled by the geographical distributions of glaciers.