High mid-Holocene accumulation rates over West Antarctica inferred from a pervasive ice-penetrating radar reflector

J. A. Bodart, R. G. Bingham, D. A. Young, J. A. MacGregor, D. W. Ashmore, E. Quartini, A. S. Hein, D. G. Vaughan, D. D. Blankenship

Research output: Working paperPreprint


Modelling the past and future evolution of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) to atmospheric and ocean forcing is challenged by the availability and quality of observed palaeo-boundary conditions. Key potential data for reconstructing past ice-sheet processes on large spatial scales are Internal Reflecting Horizons (IRHs) detected by Radio-Echo Sounding (RES) techniques. When isochronal and dated at ice cores, IRHs can be used to determine palaeo-accumulation rates and patterns. Using a spatially extensive IRH over Pine Island Glacier, Thwaites Glacier, Institute and Möller Ice Streams, and a local layer approximation model, we infer mid-Holocene accumulation rates over the slow-flowing parts of these catchments for the past ~5000 years. By comparing our results with modern climate reanalysis models and observational syntheses, we estimate that accumulation rates over the Amundsen-Weddell-Ross divide were on average 18 % higher than modern rates during the mid-Holocene. However, no significant spatial changes in the accumulation pattern were observed. These higher mid-Holocene accumulation-rate estimates match previous palaeo-accumulation estimates from ice-core and targeted IPR surveys over the ice divide, and also coincide with periods of grounding-line re-advance during the Holocene over the Weddell and Ross Sea sectors. Our results highlight the need for ice-sheet models to account for time-varying accumulation rates across the WAIS during the Holocene to provide better estimates of its contribution to past sea-level rise.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2022

Publication series

NameThe Cryosphere Discussions

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