European Ice Sheet Complex evolution during main deglaciation (18.9–14.6 ka)

Monica C.M. Winsborrow, Anna L.C. Hughes, S. L. Greenwood

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


During the main deglaciation (18.9–14.6ka) the European Ice Sheet Complex (EISC) lost over half of its mass and underwent wholescale changes in configuration and flow dynamics; transitioning from a continental-scale ice mass to three independent ice sheets. This chapter provides an overview and synthesis of the evolution of the EISC during this time period as recorded in its landscape and landform record, described in Chapters 10–15. The deglacial landscapes of the EISC are rich and diverse. We discuss the information these provide on the timing, pace and patterns of retreat across the domain and explore the influence that the EISC’s wide range of longitudinal, climatic and glaciological settings had on its demise. Numerous ice streams operated within the EISC during deglaciation and their stability and behaviour were key drivers of its retreat. Rapid retreat of major ice streams triggered ice saddle collapse across both the southern Barents Sea and the North Sea, driving widespread deglaciation of these marine sectors. Terrestrial- and lacustrine-terminating ice streams were also common features of the deglaciating EISC. We discuss the challenges of interpreting their complex geomorphological records in the absence of modern analogues, and the ongoing debate over their persistence and importance for the pacing and flow dynamics of retreat.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEuropean Glacial Landscapes
Subtitle of host publicationThe Last Deglaciation
EditorsDavid Palacios, Philip D. Hughes, José M. García-Ruiz, Nuria Andrés
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherElsevier BV
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9780323918992
ISBN (Print)9780323985116
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sept 2022


  • European Ice Sheet Complex
  • ice streams
  • main deglaciation
  • palaeoglaciology


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