Articles | Volume 5, issue 1
Research article
26 May 2014
Research article |  | 26 May 2014

Comparing a thermo-mechanical Weichselian Ice Sheet reconstruction to reconstructions based on the sea level equation: aspects of ice configurations and glacial isostatic adjustment

P. Schmidt, B. Lund, J-O. Näslund, and J. Fastook

Abstract. In this study we compare a recent reconstruction of the Weichselian Ice Sheet as simulated by the University of Maine ice sheet model (UMISM) to two reconstructions commonly used in glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) modelling: ICE-5G and ANU (Australian National University, also known as RSES). The UMISM reconstruction is carried out on a regional scale based on thermo-mechanical modelling, whereas ANU and ICE-5G are global models based on the sea level equation. The three models of the Weichselian Ice Sheet are compared directly in terms of ice volume, extent and thickness, as well as in terms of predicted glacial isostatic adjustment in Fennoscandia.

The three reconstructions display significant differences. Whereas UMISM and ANU includes phases of pronounced advance and retreat prior to the last glacial maximum (LGM), the thickness and areal extent of the ICE-5G ice sheet is more or less constant up until the LGM. During the post-LGM deglaciation phase ANU and ICE-5G melt relatively uniformly over the entire ice sheet in contrast to UMISM, which melts preferentially from the edges, thus reflecting the fundamental difference in the reconstruction scheme.

We find that all three reconstructions fit the present-day uplift rates over Fennoscandia equally well, albeit with different optimal earth model parameters. Given identical earth models, ICE-5G predicts the fastest present-day uplift rates, and ANU the slowest. Moreover, only for ANU can a unique best-fit model be determined. For UMISM and ICE-5G there is a range of earth models that can reproduce the present-day uplift rates equally well. This is understood from the higher present-day uplift rates predicted by ICE-5G and UMISM, which result in bifurcations in the best-fit upper- and lower-mantle viscosities.

We study the areal distributions of present-day residual surface velocities in Fennoscandia and show that all three reconstructions generally over-predict velocities in southwestern Fennoscandia and that there are large differences in the fit to the observational data in Finland and northernmost Sweden and Norway. These difference may provide input to further enhancements of the ice sheet reconstructions.