EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Reconstruction of the Patagonian Ice Sheet during the Last Glacial Maximum using numerical modelling and geological constraints

Franco Retamal-Ramírez1,2,3, Andrés Castillo4,5, Jorge Bernales6,4, and Irina Rogozhina5,7
Franco Retamal-Ramírez et al.
  • 1Departamento de Geofísica, Universidad de Concepción, Concepción, Chile (
  • 2Center for Climate and Resilience Research (CR)2, Chile
  • 3Centro de Investigación Gaia Antártica, Universidad de Magallanes, Punta Arenas, Chile (
  • 4MARUM - Center for Marine Environmental Science and Faculty of Geosciences, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
  • 5Department of Geography, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
  • 6Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • 7Departamento de Ciencias de la Tierra, Universidad de Concepción, Concepción, Chile

During the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, 23,000 to 19,000 years ago), the Patagonian Ice Sheet (PIS) covered the central chain of the Andes between ~ 38 °S to 55 °S. From limited paleoclimatic evidence, especially that derived from glacial landforms, it becomes clear that maximum ice sheet expansions in the Southern and Northern Hemispheres were not synchronized. However, large uncertainties still exist in the timing of the onset of regional deglaciation as well as its major drivers. Ice sheet modelling combined with glacial geochronology and paleoclimate reconstructions can provide important information on the PIS geometry, ice volume and its contribution to the sea level low during the LGM. It can also help to test different paleoclimate scenarios and identify climate models that capture regional climate responses to the global change in a realistic manner.

Here we present an ensemble of numerical simulations of the PIS during the LGM with an aim to constrain the most likely LGM climate conditions that can explain the reconstructed geometry of the PIS in a satisfactory manner. The PIS model is driven by the climate forcing that fuse near-surface air temperatures and precipitation rates from the ERA5 reanalysis with the paleoclimate model outputs from the Paleoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project (PMIP2 and PMIP3) and the in-house Community Earth System Model (CESM) experiments. Our analysis suggests a strong dependence of the PIS geometry on the near-surface air temperature forcing. All the ensemble experiments designed with PMIP and in-house CESM experiments fail to reproduce the ice sheet extent between 38 and 42 °S. The most realistic performance for the LGM ice sheet extents south of 38 °S has been derived using those climate models that have a higher spatial resolution. The latter helps these models to capture regional climate conditions in a more physically consistent manner. It should be kept in mind that this analysis is based on the evaluation of the modelled ice sheet extents only, as geological evidence on the former ice sheet thickness is still scarce. Nevertheless, it can be shown that a realistic ice sheet geometry during the LGM is consistent with a regional decrease in air temperature of 7 to 12 °C and an increase in precipitation of 400 to 1500 mm/year along the western sectors of the PIS.

How to cite: Retamal-Ramírez, F., Castillo, A., Bernales, J., and Rogozhina, I.: Reconstruction of the Patagonian Ice Sheet during the Last Glacial Maximum using numerical modelling and geological constraints, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-1774,, 2022.

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