Advances in Earth Science ›› 2023, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (6): 619-630. doi: 10.11867/j.issn.1001-8166.2023.031

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Investigating Uncertainty of Simulating Northern Hemisphere Ice Sheet Evolution by Glacial Index Method

Yuao ZHANG 1 , 2( ), Xu ZHANG 1( ), Jinbo ZAN 1, Xiaomin FANG 1   

  1. 1.Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
    2.University of Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing 101408, China
  • Received:2023-04-04 Revised:2023-05-04 Online:2023-06-10 Published:2023-06-07
  • Contact: Xu ZHANG;
  • About author:ZHANG Yuao (1997-), male, Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province, Master student. Research area includes ice sheet dynamics and simulation. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    the Outstanding Member Projects of the Chinese Academy of Sciences for Youth Promotion(Y202023);The Basic Science Center for Tibetan Plateau Earth System(Grant 41988101);The Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research, Ministry of Science and Technology of China "Weathering and erosion history of Plateau and its climatic and environmental effects” Sub-Project of Project 7 “Plateau Growth and Evolution”(2019QZKK0707)

Yuao ZHANG, Xu ZHANG, Jinbo ZAN, Xiaomin FANG. Investigating Uncertainty of Simulating Northern Hemisphere Ice Sheet Evolution by Glacial Index Method[J]. Advances in Earth Science, 2023, 38(6): 619-630.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) stresses threat of the continuous melting of polar ice sheets and hence rising global sea levels on our socioeconomic and living environment. However, large uncertainty remains in future projections of Earth’s ice sheet, which might be reduced by improving our understanding of its evolution history and associated dynamics by ice-sheet modeling. Glacial index method is an effective approach to investigate transient ice sheet change by interpolating discrete climate forcing into continuous climate forcing based on paleoclimate proxies. This indicates the choice of paleoclimate proxy might be of crucial impact on simulated transient ice sheet change. Here we investigate this issue with a focus on the tempo-spatial evolution of the Northern Hemisphere ice sheet during the last glacial cycle using two sets (six in total) of proxies representing global sea level and temperature changes, respectively. Three key conclusions are summarized in the following. First, the characteristics of proxy trajectory have a significant influence on the simulated ice volume’s evolutionary characteristics. Second, the presence of millennial-scale abrupt climate change events in proxies lowers the simulated overall ice volume when tendency and amplitude of proxies are similar. Third, ice sheet extent is constrained by the summer 0 °C isotherm which is modulated by the tendency and amplitude of different proxies, even when subjected to the same Last Glacial Maximum climate forcing. Therefore, our results emphasize the need to carefully consider the characteristics of paleoclimate proxies when using the glacial index method for studying global ice sheet changes over time. Understanding the limitations and potential biases associated with the chosen proxies is crucial to avoid misinterpretation and overstatement of modeling results.

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