Large obliquity-paced Antarctic ice-volume fluctuations suggest melting by atmospheric and ocean warming during late Oligocene
The late Oligocene (~27.8–23 My ago) offers an opportunity to study past climate variability under high-CO2, warmer-than-present and the unipolar (Antarctic) glaciated state. Here, we present new high-resolution geochemical records from exquisitely well-preserved benthic foraminifera for the late Oligocene, an interval for which Antarctic ice-sheet size and stability are debated. Our records indicate four obliquity-paced glacial-interglacial cycles with ice-volume changes of up to ~70% of the modern Antarctic ice-sheet. The amplitude of ice-volume change during these late Oligocene glacial-interglacial cycles is comparable to that of the late Pliocene and early Pleistocene. Ice-volume estimates for interglacials are small enough to be accommodated by a land-based Antarctic ice-sheet but, for three of the four glacials studied, our calculations imply that ice sheets likely advanced beyond the Antarctic coastline onto the shelves. Our findings suggest an Antarctic ice-sheet vulnerable to melting driven by both bottom-up (ocean) and top-down (atmospheric) warming under late Oligocene warmer-than-present climate conditions.
Author affiliationSchool of Geography, Geology and the Environment, University of Leicester
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