21 Feb 2024
 | 21 Feb 2024

The geometry of sea-level change across a mid-Pliocene glacial cycle

Meghan E. King, Jessica R. Creveling, and Jerry X. Mitrovica

Abstract. Predictions for future sea-level change and ice sheet stability rely on accurate reconstructions of sea level during past warm intervals, such as the mid-Pliocene Warm Period (MPWP; 3.264 – 3.025 Ma). The magnitude of MPWP glacial cycles, and the relative contribution of meltwater sources, remains uncertain. We explore this issue by modeling glacial isostatic adjustment processes for a wide range of possible MPWP ice sheet melt zones, including North America, Greenland, Eurasia, West Antarctica, and the Wilkes Basin, Aurora Basin, and Prydz Bay Embayment in East Antarctica. As a case study, we use a series of ice histories together with a suite of viscoelastic Earth models to predict global changes in sea level from the Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) M2 glacial to the MIS KM3 interglacial. Our results indicate that, of the locations with stratigraphic constraints on Pliocene glacial–interglacial sea level amplitude, local sea-level (LSL) rise at Whanganui Basin, New Zealand, will be lower than the associated global mean sea level (GMSL) contribution from individual ice sheets by an average of ~20 %. In contrast, LSL rise at Enewetak Atoll is systematically larger than GMSL by 10 %. While no single observation (field site) can provide a unique constraint on the sources of ice melt during this period, combinations of observations have the potential to yield a stronger constraint on GMSL and to narrow the list of possible sources.

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Meghan E. King, Jessica R. Creveling, and Jerry X. Mitrovica

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-344', Tim Naish, 02 Apr 2024
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Meghan King, 24 May 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-344', Anonymous Referee #2, 03 Apr 2024
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Meghan King, 24 May 2024
Meghan E. King, Jessica R. Creveling, and Jerry X. Mitrovica
Meghan E. King, Jessica R. Creveling, and Jerry X. Mitrovica


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Short summary
In this study, we compute glacial-interglacial sea-level changes across the mid-Pliocene Warm Period (MPWP; 3.264 – 3.025 Ma) produced from ice mass loss of different ice sheets. Our results quantify the relationship between local and global mean sea-level (GMSL) change and highlight the level of consistency in this mapping across different ice melt scenarios. These predictions can help to guide site selection in any effort to constrain the sources and magnitude of MPWP GMSL change.