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Fluctuations of local glaciers in Greenland during latest Pleistocene and Holocene time


This paper is the first to summarize research on fluctuations of local glaciers in Greenland (e.g. ice caps and mountain glaciers independent of the Greenland Ice Sheet) during latest Pleistocene and Holocene time. In contrast to the extensive data available for fluctuations of the Greenland Ice Sheet, surprisingly little data exist to constrain local glacier extents. Much of the available research was conducted prior to wide-spread use of AMS radiocarbon dating and the advent of surface-exposure and luminescence dating. Although there is a paucity of data, generally similar patterns of local glacier fluctuations are observed in all regions of Greenland and likely reflect changes in paleoclimate, which must have influenced at least the margins of the Inland Ice. Absolute-age data for late-glacial and early Holocene advances of local glaciers are reported from only two locations: Disko (island) and the Scoresby Sund region. Subsequent to late-glacial or early Holocene time, most local glaciers were smaller than at present or may have disappeared completely during the Holocene Thermal Maximum. In general, local glacier advances that occurred during Historical time (1200–1940 AD) are the most extensive since late-glacial or early Holocene time. Historical documents and more recent aerial photographs provide useful information about local glacier fluctuations during the last ?100 yrs. In all but one area (North Greenland), local glaciers are currently receding from Historical extents.