The configuration of Northern Hemisphere ice sheets through the Quaternary
Abstract: Our understanding of how global climatic changes are translated into ice-sheet fluctuations and sea-level change is currently limited by a lack of knowledge of the configuration of ice sheets prior to the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Here, we compile a synthesis of empirical data and numerical modelling results related to pre-LGM ice sheets to produce new hypotheses regarding their extent in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) at 17 time-slices that span the Quaternary. Our reconstructions illustrate pronounced ice-sheet asymmetry within the last glacial cycle and significant variations in ice-marginal positions between older glacial cycles. We find support for a significant reduction in the extent of the Laurentide Ice Sheet (LIS) during MIS 3, implying that global sea levels may have been 30–40 m higher than most previous estimates. Our ice-sheet reconstructions illustrate the current state-of-the-art knowledge of pre-LGM ice sheets and provide a conceptual framework to interpret NH landscape evolution.