Abrupt Common Era hydroclimate shifts drive west Greenland ice cap change

Ice core archives are well suited for reconstructing rapid past climate changes at high latitudes. Despite this, few records currently exist from coastal Greenlandic ice caps due to their remote nature, limiting our long-term understanding of past maritime and coastal climate variability across this rapidly changing Arctic region. Here, we reconstruct regionally representative glacier surface mass balance and climate variability over the last two thousand years (~169–2015 ce) using an ice core collected from the Nuussuaq Peninsula, west Greenland. We find indications of abrupt regional hydroclimate shifts, including an up to 20% decrease in average snow accumulation during the transition from the Medieval Warm Period (950–1250 ce) to Little Ice Age (1450–1850 ce), followed by a subsequent >40% accumulation increase from the early 18th to late 20th centuries ce. These coastal changes are substantially larger than those previously reported from interior Greenland records. Moreover, we show that the strong relationship observed today between Arctic temperature rise and coastal ice cap decay contrasts with that of the last millennium, during which periods of warming led to snowfall-driven glacial growth. Taken together with modern observations, the ice core evidence could indicate a recent reversal in the response of west Greenland ice caps to climate change.


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Work Title Abrupt Common Era hydroclimate shifts drive west Greenland ice cap change
Open Access
  1. Matthew B. Osman
  2. Benjamin E. Smith
  3. Luke D. Trusel
  4. Sarah B. Das
  5. Joseph R. McConnell
  6. Nathan Chellman
  7. Monica Arienzo
  8. Harald Sodemann
License In Copyright (Rights Reserved)
Work Type Article
  1. Nature Geoscience
Publication Date September 9, 2021
Publisher Identifier (DOI)
  1. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-021-00818-w
Deposited July 21, 2022




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Work History

Version 1

  • Created
  • Added Osman_et_al_2021.pdf
  • Added Creator Matthew B. Osman
  • Added Creator Benjamin E. Smith
  • Added Creator Luke D. Trusel
  • Added Creator Sarah B. Das
  • Added Creator Joseph R. McConnell
  • Added Creator Nathan Chellman
  • Added Creator Monica Arienzo
  • Added Creator Harald Sodemann
  • Published
  • Updated Publication Date Show Changes
    Publication Date
    • 2021-10-01
    • 2021-09-09