Cordilleran Ice Sheet mass loss preceded climate reversals near the Pleistocene Termination

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Abstract

The Cordilleran Ice Sheet (CIS) once covered an area comparable to that of Greenland. Previous geologic evidence and numerical models indicate that the ice sheet covered much of westernmost Canada as late as 12.5 thousand years ago (ka). New data indicate that substantial areas throughout westernmost Canada were ice free prior to 12.5 ka and some as early as 14.0 ka, with implications for climate dynamics and the timing of meltwater discharge to the Pacific and Arctic oceans. Early Bølling-Allerød warmth halved the mass of the CIS in as little as 500 years, causing 2.5 to 3.0 meters of sea-level rise. Dozens of cirque and valley glaciers, along with the southern margin of the CIS, advanced into recently deglaciated regions during the Bølling-Allerød and Younger Dryas.

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