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Tracer transport in the Greenland Ice Sheet: constraints on ice cores and glacial history

Abstract : The climate history and dynamics of the Greenland Ice Sheet are studied using a coupled model of the depositional provenance and transport of glacier ice, allowing simultaneous prediction of the detailed isotopic stratigraphy of ice cores at all the major Greenland sites. Adopting a novel method for reconstructing the age–depth relationship, we greatly improve the accuracy of semi-Lagrangian tracer tracking schemes and can readily incorporate an age-dependent ice rheology. The larger aim of our study is to impose new constraints on the glacial history of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Leading sources of uncertainty in the climate and dynamic history are encapsulated in a small number of parameters: the temperature and elevation isotopic sensitivities, the glacial–interglacial precipitation contrast and the effective viscosity of ice in the flow law. Comparing predicted and observed ice layering at ice core sites, we establish plausible ranges for the key model parameters, identify climate and dynamic histories that are mutually consistent and recover the past depositional elevation of ice cores to ease interpretation of their climatic records. With the coupled three-dimensional model of ice dynamics and provenance transport we propose a method to place all the ice core records on a common time scale and use discrepancies to adjust the reconstructed climate history. Analysis of simulated GRIP ice layering and borehole temperature profiles confirms that the GRIP record is sensitive to the dynamic as well as to the climatic history, but not enough to strongly limit speculation on the state of the Greenland Ice Sheet during the Eemian. In contrast, our study indicates that the Dye 3 and Camp Century ice cores are extremely sensitive to ice dynamics and greatly constrain Eemian ice sheet reconstructions. We suggest that the maximum Eemian sea-level contribution of the ice sheet was in the range of 3.5–4.5 m.
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Submitted on : Friday, April 10, 2009 - 9:24:50 AM
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Nicolas Lhomme, Garry K. C. Clarke, Shawn J. Marshall. Tracer transport in the Greenland Ice Sheet: constraints on ice cores and glacial history. Quaternary Science Reviews, Elsevier, 2005, 24 (1-2), pp.173 à 194. ⟨10.1016/j.quascirev.2004.08.020⟩. ⟨insu-00374862⟩

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