Simulating the Early Holocene demise of the Laurentide Ice Sheet with BISICLES (public trunk revision 3298)
Geoscientific Model Development
Abstract. Simulating the demise of the Laurentide Ice Sheet covering Hudson Bay in the Early Holocene (10–7 ka) is important for understanding the role of accelerated changes in ice sheet topography and melt in the 8.2 ka event, a century long cooling of the Northern Hemisphere by several degrees. Freshwater released from the ice sheet through a surface mass balance instability (known as the saddle collapse) has been suggested as a major forcing for the 8.2 ka event, but the temporal evolution
... temporal evolution of this pulse has not been constrained. Dynamical ice loss and marine interactions could have significantly accelerated the ice sheet demise, but simulating such processes requires computationally expensive models that are difficult to configure and are often impractical for simulating past ice sheets. Here, we developed an ice sheet model setup for studying the Laurentide Ice Sheet's Hudson Bay saddle collapse and the associated meltwater pulse in unprecedented detail using the BISICLES ice sheet model, an efficient marine ice sheet model of the latest generation which is capable of refinement to kilometre-scale resolutions and higher-order ice flow physics. The setup draws on previous efforts to model the deglaciation of the North American Ice Sheet for initialising the ice sheet temperature, recent ice sheet reconstructions for developing the topography of the region and ice sheet, and output from a general circulation model for a representation of the climatic forcing. The modelled deglaciation is in agreement with the reconstructed extent of the ice sheet, and the associated meltwater pulse has realistic timing. Furthermore, the peak magnitude of the modelled meltwater equivalent (0.07–0.13 Sv) is compatible with geological estimates of freshwater discharge through the Hudson Strait. The results demonstrate that while improved representations of the glacial dynamics and marine interactions are key for correctly simulating the pattern of Early Holocene ice sheet retreat, surface mass balance introduces by far the most uncertainty. The new model configuration presented here provides future opportunities to quantify the range of plausible amplitudes and durations of a Hudson Bay ice saddle collapse meltwater pulse and its role in forcing the 8.2 ka event.