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Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface

Statistical modeling of a former Arctic Ocean ice shelf complex using Antarctic analogies

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Abstract

[1] Geophysical mapping and coring of the central Arctic Ocean seafloor provide evidence for repeated occurrences of ice sheet/ice shelf complexes during previous glacial periods. Several ridges and bathymetric highs shallower than present water depths of ∼1000m show signs of erosion from deep-drafting (armadas of) icebergs, which originated from thick outlet glaciers and ice shelves. Mapped glacigenic landforms and dates of cored sediments suggest that the largest ice shelf complex was confined to the Amerasian sector of the Arctic Ocean during Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 6. However, the spatial extent of ice shelves can not be well reconstructed from occasional groundings on bathymetric highs. Therefore, we apply a statistical approach to provide independent support for an extensive MIS 6 ice shelf complex, which previously was inferred only from interpretation of geophysical and geological data. Specifically, we assess whether this ice shelf complex comprises a likely source of the deep-draft icebergs responsible for the mapped scour marks. The statistical modeling is based on exploiting relations between contemporary Antarctic ice shelves and their local physical environments and the assumption that Arctic Ocean MIS6 ice shelves scale similarly. Analyzing ice thickness data along the calving front of contemporary ice shelves, a peak over threshold method is applied to determine sources of deep-drafting icebergs in the Arctic Ocean MIS6 ice shelf complex. This approach is novel to modeling Arctic paleoglacial configurations. Predicted extreme calving front drafts match observed deep-draft iceberg scours if the ice shelf complex is sufficiently large.

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