Early-mid Pliocene moraines in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica, are more extensive than the present alpine glaciers in this region, indicating substantial climatic differences between the early-mid Pliocene and the present. To quantify this difference in the glacier-climate regime, we estimated the equilibrium-line altitude (ELA) change since the early-mid Pliocene by calculating the modern ELA and reconstructing the ELAs of four alpine glaciers in Wright and Taylor Valleys at their early-mid Pliocene maxima. The area-altitude balance ratio method was used on modern and reconstructed early-mid Pliocene hypsometry. In Wright and Victoria Valleys, mass-balance data identify present-day ELAs of 800-1600 m a.s.l. and an average balance ratio of 1.1. The estimated ELAs of the much larger early-mid Pliocene glaciers in Wright and Taylor Valleys range from 600 to 950 ?? 170 m a.s.l., and thus are 250-600 ??170 m lower than modern ELAs in these valleys. The depressed ELAs during the early-mid-Pliocene most likely indicate a wetter and therefore warmer climate in the Dry Valleys during this period than previous studies have recognized.
Additional publication details
Climatic implications of reconstructed early - Mid Pliocene equilibrium-line altitudes in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica