Holocene ice margin variations of the Greenland Ice Sheet and local glaciers around Sermilik Fjord, southeast Greenland

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Understanding the long-term difference in the response times of ice sheets, peripheral ice caps and glaciers may provide information about their respective sensitivities to climate change. However, there are only a few places where the history of local glaciers, ice caps (GICs) and the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) have been recorded in the same area. In this study, we use proglacial threshold lake records from four sites around Sermilik Fjord, in southeast Greenland to determine the Holocene ice marginal variations. Combined with other published records from the area, we find that the GrIS margin receded to within its present extent in the Early Holocene ~9.6 cal ka BP, probably reaching its minimum extent by ~7.3 to 6.3 cal ka BP before readvancing to its maximum Late Holocene position between ~2.6 and 0.3 cal ka BP. The GICs began to retreat ~9.5 cal ka BP and completely melted away for an extended period between ~8 and 4 ka during the Middle Holocene. Regrowth of the GICs began during the early- and late Neoglacial and they reached their maximum extent between ~1.2 and 0.7 cal ka BP. In general, we find a coherent pattern of ice marginal variations between the GrIS and GICs, which coincides with the major Holocene climate changes. However, our results also demonstrate that there are differences in the synchronicity between individual records, which largely are dictated by the local topography that determines when ice marginal changes were recorded in proglacial lakes. Accordingly, this study illustrates both the advantages and limitations of the method and highlight the need for multiple proglacial lake records to constrain past glacier variations in a region.

Original languageEnglish
JournalQuaternary International
Number of pages12
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s)

    Research areas

  • Glaciers, Greenland Ice Sheet, Holocene, Ice marginal variations, Neoglacial, Proglacial threshold lakes

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