Last updated October 10, 2018

Evidence for the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet divide for 1.4 million years

  • Establishes importance of understanding past fluctuations of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) because of the possibility of WAIS collapse in the future and a consequent rise in global sea level
  • States the configuration and stability of the ice sheet during past interglacial periods remains uncertain
  • Presents evidence to suggest that the divide of the WAIS has fluctuated only modestly in location and thickness for at least the last 1.4 million years
  • Finds that fluctuations during glacial–interglacial cycles appear superimposed on a long-term trajectory of ice-surface lowering relative to the mountains
  • Finds that this implies as a minimum, a regional ice sheet centred on the Ellsworth-Whitmore uplands may have survived Pleistocene warm periods, and that if so, it constrains the WAIS contribution to global sea level rise during interglacials to about 3.3 m above present