The last Eurasian ice sheets: a chronological database and time-slice reconstruction, DATED-1

Anna L.C. Hughes, Richard Gyllencreutz, Øystein S. Lohne, Jan Mangerud, John Inge Svendsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a new time-slice reconstruction of the Eurasian ice sheets (British-Irish, Svalbard-Barents-Kara Seas and Scandinavian) documenting the spatial evolution of these interconnected ice sheets every 1000 years from 25 to 10 ka, and at four selected time periods back to 40 ka. The time-slice maps of ice-sheet extent are based on a new Geographical Information System (GIS) database, where we have collected published numerical dates constraining the timing of ice-sheet advance and retreat, and additionally geomorphological and geological evidence contained within the existing literature. We integrate all uncertainty estimates into three ice-margin lines for each time-slice; a most-credible line, derived from our assessment of all available evidence, with bounding maximum and minimum limits allowed by existing data. This approach was motivated by the demands of glaciological, isostatic and climate modelling and to clearly display limitations in knowledge. The timing of advance and retreat were both remarkably spatially variable across the ice-sheet area. According to our compilation the westernmost limit along the British-Irish and Norwegian continental shelf was reached up to 7000 years earlier (at c. 27-26 ka) than the eastern limit on the Russian Plain (at c. 20-19 ka). The Eurasian ice sheet complex as a whole attained its maximum extent (5.5 Mkm2) and volume (~24 m Sea Level Equivalent) at c. 21 ka. Our continental-scale approach highlights instances of conflicting evidence and gaps in the ice-sheet chronology where uncertainties remain large and should be a focus for future research. Largest uncertainties coincide with locations presently below sea level and where contradicting evidence exists. This first version of the database and time-slices (DATED-1) has a census date of 1 January 2013 and both are available to download via the Bjerknes Climate Data Centre and PANGAEA (;

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-45
Number of pages45
Issue number1
Early online date9 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


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