“Retreat of the East Antarctic ice sheet during the last glacial termination,” a paper authored by Joel W. Johnson Family Professor of Geosciences Eugene Domack along with 11 co-authors, was published on Nature Geoscience’s website on Jan. 16. The paper will appear in print in the near future.
Other co-authors include Caroline Lavoie, who recently completed postdoctoral research at Hamilton, as well as researchers from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand; Stanford University; Colgate University; Macquarie University, New South Wales, Australia; Pennsylvania State University; University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Mass.; and Institute for Environmental Research, ANSTO, Menai, New SouthWales Australia.
A portion of this research was supported by the LARISSA grant. a National Science Foundation-funded and Hamilton College-supported initiative. The program, launched in 2008, has brought an international, interdisciplinary team together to address a significant regional problem with global change implications.
In describing their research Domack said, “Sea level rise is one of the most significant changes to be expected as the planet continues to warm in the coming century. This paper addresses past changes in sea level and how they influenced the status of the world’s largest ice sheet, the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. It provides a synopsis of the relative role of rising sea levels (some 14,000 to 15,000 years ago) and the warming ocean temperature on the retreat of the ice sheet.
“Current debate centers on when Antarctic ice sheets contributed to past changes in sea level and hence how stable they might be under current states of rising sea level (the later due to warming of the ocean and loss of mountain glaciers worldwide). We provide evidence that the Antarctic Ice Sheet behaved rather passively and responded to changes in sea level, rather than inducing a change during the last glacial termination. It also highlights the importance of ocean temperature on exacerbating instabilities in the ice sheet behavior by increasing the amount of ice loss during retreat.”