Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2021-110
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2021-110

  02 Sep 2021

02 Sep 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Glacier response to Holocene warmth inferred from in situ 10Be and 14C bedrock analyses in Steingletscher’s forefield (central Swiss Alps)

Irene Schimmelpfennig1, Joerg Schaefer2, Jennifer Lamp2, Vincent Godard1, Roseanne Schwartz2, Edouard Bard1, Thibaut Tuna1, Naki Akçar3, Christian Schlüchter3, Susan R. Zimmerman4, and the ASTER Team Irene Schimmelpfennig et al.
  • 1Aix-Marseille Université, CNRS, Coll France, IRD, INRAE, CEREGE, Aix en Provence, France
  • 2Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Division of Geochemistry, Palisades, NY 10964, USA
  • 3Institute of Geological Sciences, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  • 4Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA 94550, USA
  • A full list of the team members appears at the end of the paper.

Abstract. Mid-latitude mountain glaciers sensitively respond to local summer temperature changes. Chronologies of past glacier fluctuations based on the investigation of glacial landforms therefore allows for a better understanding of warm-season climate variability at local scale. In this study, we focus on the Holocene, the current interglacial of the last 11,700 years, which remains matter of dispute regarding its temperature evolution and underlying driving mechanisms. In particular, the nature and significance of the transition from the early to mid-Holocene and of the Holocene Thermal Maximum (HTM) are still debated. Here, we apply a new approach by combining in situ cosmogenic 10Be moraine and 10Be-14C bedrock dating from the same site, the forefield of Steingletscher (European Alps), and reconstruct the glacier’s millennial recession and advance periods. The results suggest that subsequent to the final deglaciation at ~10 ka, the glacier was mostly smaller than its 2000 CE extent until ~3 ka, followed by the predominant occurrence of glacier advances until the end of the Little Ice Age in the 19th century. These findings agree with existing proxy records of Holocene summer temperature and glacier evolution in the Alps, showing that glaciers throughout the region retreated beyond modern extents for most of the Early and mid-Holocene. This implies that at least the summer climate of the HTM was warmer than that of the end of the 20th century for several millennia. Further investigations are necessary to refine the magnitude of warming and the potential HTM seasonality.

Irene Schimmelpfennig et al.

Status: open (until 28 Oct 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CC1: 'Comment on cp-2021-110', Heinz Wanner, 20 Sep 2021 reply

Irene Schimmelpfennig et al.

Irene Schimmelpfennig et al.

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Short summary
Small mountain glaciers advance and recede as a response to summer temperature changes. Dating of glacial landforms with cosmogenic nuclides allowed us to reconstruct the advance and retreat history of an Alpine glacier throughout the past ~11 000 years, the Holocene. The results contribute knowledge to the debate of Holocene climate evolution, indicating that during most of this warm period, summer temperatures were warmer than in modern times, but annual mean temperatures were likely lower.