The Influence of True Polar Wander on Glacial Inception in North America
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CitationDaradich, A., P. Huybers, J.X. Mitrovica, N.-H. Chan, and J. Austermann. 2017. The Influence of True Polar Wander on Glacial Inception in North America. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 461: 96-104.
AbstractThe impact that long-term changes in Earth's rotation axis relative to the surface geography, or true polar wander (TPW), and continental drift have had in driving cooling of high-latitude North America since the Eocene is explored. Recent reanalyses of paleomagnetic pole positions suggest a secular drift in Earth's rotation axis of over the last 40 Myr, in a direction that has brought North America to increasingly higher latitudes. Using modern temperature data in tandem with a simple model, a reduction in the annual sum of positive degree days (PDDs) driven by this polar and plate motion over the last 20 Myr is quantified. At sites in Baffin Island, the TPW- and continental drift-driven decrease in insolation forcing over the last 20 Myr rivals changes in insolation forcing caused by variations in Earth's obliquity and precession. Using conservative PDD scaling factors and an annual snowfall equal to modern station observations, the snowiest location in Baffin Island 20 Myr ago had a mass balance deficit of ∼0.75–2 m yr−1 (water equivalent thickness) relative to its projected mass balance at 2.7 Ma. This mass balance deficit would have continued to increase as one goes back in time until ∼40 Myr ago based on adopted paleopole locations. TPW and continental drift that moved Arctic North America poleward would have strongly promoted glacial inception in Baffin Island at ∼3 Ma, a location where the proto-Laurentide Ice Sheet is thought to have originated.
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