Extensive marine-terminating ice sheets in Europe from 2.5 million years ago

Brice R. Rea, Andrew M. W. Newton, Rachel M. Lamb, Rachel Harding, Grant R. Bigg, Phil Rose, Matteo Spagnolo, Mads Huuse, John M. L. Cater, Stuart Archer, Francis Buckley, Maral Halliyeva, Jane Huuse, David G. Cornwell, Simon H. Brocklehurst, John A. Howell

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Geometries of Early Pleistocene (2.58–0.78 million years ago) ice sheets in NW Europe are poorly constrained, but are required to improve our understanding of past ocean-atmosphere-cryosphere coupling. Ice sheets are believed to have changed in their response to orbital forcing, becoming, from about 1.2 million years ago, volumetrically larger, and longer-lived. Here, we present a multi-proxy dataset for the North Sea, extending to over a kilometre below the present-day seafloor, which clearly demonstrates spatially extensive glaciation of the basin from the earliest Pleistocene. Ice sheets repeatedly entered the North Sea, south of 60°N, in water depths of up to ~250 m from 2.53 Ma and subsequently grounded in the centre of the basin, in deeper water, from 1.87 Ma. Despite lower global ice volumes, these ice sheets were near-comparable in spatial extent to those of the Middle and Late Pleistocene but possibly thinner and moving over slippery (low basal resistance) beds.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbereaar8327
Number of pages12
JournalScience Advances
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2018


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