BRITICE-CHRONO: Constraining Rates and Style of Marine-Influenced Ice Sheet Decay.

Understanding the rate and style of retreat of the last British & Irish ice sheet.

Duration: 2012 – 2017.

This project takes place in the British Isles and its surrounding seas and consists of improving ice sheet modelling in a warming world, to predict rates of sea level rise. 

The melting ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland - and their contribution to ongoing sea level rise - are a major concern for scientists. Yet the complexity of the Earth-system makes predicting both the retreat of these ice-sheets and their effects on the oceans difficult. Glaciologists urgently need improved data about ice sheet behaviour in order to improve their forecasting models. 

The BRITICE-CHRONO project has undertaken a systematic campaign to collect and to date material in order to constrain the timing and rates of change of the marine-influenced sectors of the collapsing British Irish Ice Sheet. The work of the project team has produced a detailed map of the pattern of ice margin retreat that is based on - and traceable back to - the underlying landform evidence.

A key focus of the project is the use of extensive fieldwork and archival research to produce new understandings of factors affecting the rate of retreat of the British Irish Ice Sheet. This includes insights such as:

- the marine-influenced sectors collapsed rapidly (in fewer than 1000 years) and that once onshore the ice sheet stabilised and retreated more slowly

- the main ice catchments draining the ice sheet retreated synchronously in response to external climatic and sea-level controls

Another important aspect of the project is the publication of a quality controlled geo-chronometric database for future multidisciplinary research. All data will be made freely available specifically to encourage future collaboration between the modelling and evidence-based scientific communities. The involvement of leading ice sheet modellers on the project Advisory Panel, and integration of its data into model simulations, will enable stronger engagement between the modelling and palaeodata communities.

Visit the BRITICE CHRONO website to find out more: www.britice-chrono.group.shef.ac.uk

Researchers involved in this project include: Chris Clark, Grant Bigg, Mark Bateman, Jeremy Ely, Stephen Livingstone.