Abstract / Description of output
The timing, structure and termination of the last southern mountain glaciation and its forcing remains unclear. Most studies have focused on the global Last Glacial Maximum (LGM; 26.5–19 ka) time period, which is just part of the extensive time-frame within the last glacial period, including Marine Isotope Stages 3 and 4. Understanding the glacial fluctuations throughout the glacial period is a prerequisite for uncovering the cause and climate mechanism driving southern glaciation and the interhemispheric linkages of climate change. Here, we present an extensive (n = 65) cosmogenic 10Be glacier chronology derived from moraine belts marking the pre-global LGM extent of the former Patagonian Ice Sheet in southernmost South America. Our results show the mountain ice sheet reached its maximum extent at 48.0 ± 1.8 ka during the local LGM, but attained just half this extent at 21.5 ± 1.8 ka during the global LGM. This finding, supported by nearby glacier chronologies, indicates that at orbital time scales, the southern mid-latitude glaciers fluctuated out-of-phase with northern hemisphere ice sheets. At millennial time-scales, our data suggest that Patagonian and New Zealand glaciers advanced in unison with cold Antarctic stadials and reductions in Southern Ocean sea surface temperatures. This implies a southern middle latitudes-wide millennial rhythm of climate change throughout the last glacial period linked to the north Atlantic by the bipolar seesaw. We suggest that winter insolation, acting alongside other drivers such as the strength and/or position of the southern westerlies, controlled the extents of major southern mountain glaciers such as those in southernmost South America.