Climate Dynamics

, Volume 41, Issue 5, pp 1365–1384

A continuous simulation of global ice volume over the past 1 million years with 3-D ice-sheet models


    • Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research UtrechtUtrecht University
  • R. S. W. van de Wal
    • Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research UtrechtUtrecht University
  • L. J. Lourens
    • Department of Earth Siences, Faculty of GeosciencesUtrecht University
  • R. Bintanja
    • Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI)
  • T. J. Reerink
    • Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research UtrechtUtrecht University

DOI: 10.1007/s00382-012-1562-2

Cite this article as:
de Boer, B., van de Wal, R.S.W., Lourens, L.J. et al. Clim Dyn (2013) 41: 1365. doi:10.1007/s00382-012-1562-2


Sea-level records show large glacial-interglacial changes over the past million years, which on these time scales are related to changes of ice volume on land. During the Pleistocene, sea-level changes induced by ice volume are largely caused by the waxing and waning of the large ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere. However, the individual contributions of ice in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere are poorly constrained. In this study, for the first time a fully coupled system of four 3-D ice-sheet models is used, simulating glaciations on Eurasia, North America, Greenland and Antarctica. The ice-sheet models use a combination of the shallow ice and shelf approximations to determine sheet, shelf and sliding velocities. The framework consists of an inverse forward modelling approach to derive a self-consistent record of temperature and ice volume from deep-sea benthic δ18O data over the past 1 million years, a proxy for ice volume and temperature. It is shown that for both eustatic sea level and sea water δ18O changes, the Eurasian and North American ice sheets are responsible for the largest part of the variability. The combined contribution of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets is about 10 % for sea level and about 20 % for sea water δ18O during glacial maxima. However, changes in interglacials are mainly caused by melt of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, with an average time lag of 4 kyr between melt and temperature. Furthermore, we have tested the separate response to changes in temperature and sea level for each ice sheet, indicating that ice volume can be significantly influenced by changes in eustatic sea level alone. Hence, showing the importance of a simultaneous simulation of all four ice sheets. This paper describes the first complete simulation of global ice-volume variations over the late Pleistocene with the possibility to model changes above and below present-day ice volume, constrained by observations of benthic δ18O proxy data.


PleistoceneOxygen isotopesIce sheetGlacial cycles

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012