Minimal Holocene retreat of large tidewater glaciers in Køge Bugt, southeast Greenland

Laurence M. Dyke, Camilla S. Andresen, Marit Solveig Seidenkrantz, Anna L.C. Hughes, John F. Hiemstra, Tavi Murray, Anders A. Bjørk, David A. Sutherland, Flor Vermassen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Køge Bugt, in southeast Greenland, hosts three of the largest glaciers of the Greenland Ice Sheet; these have been major contributors to ice loss in the last two decades. Despite its importance, the Holocene history of this area has not been investigated. We present a 9100 year sediment core record of glaciological and oceanographic changes from analysis of foraminiferal assemblages, the abundance of ice-rafted debris, and sortable silt grain size data. Results show that ice-rafted debris accumulated constantly throughout the core; this demonstrates that glaciers in Køge Bugt remained in tidewater settings throughout the last 9100 years. This observation constrains maximum Holocene glacier retreat here to less than 6 km from present-day positions. Retreat was minimal despite oceanic and climatic conditions during the early-Holocene that were at least as warm as the present-day. The limited Holocene retreat of glaciers in Køge Bugt was controlled by the subglacial topography of the area; the steeply sloping bed allowed glaciers here to stabilise during retreat. These findings underscore the need to account for individual glacier geometry when predicting future behaviour. We anticipate that glaciers in Køge Bugt will remain in stable configurations in the near-future, despite the predicted continuation of atmospheric and oceanic warming.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12330
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


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