Antarctic glacial history since the Last Glacial Maximum: An overview of the record on land

Ólafur Ingólfsson*, Christian Hjort, Paul A. Berkman, Svante Björck, Eric Colhoun, Ian D. Goodwin, Brenda Hall, Kazuomi Hirakawa, Martin Melles, Per Möller, Michael L. Prentice

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

191 Citations (Scopus)


This overview examines available circum-Antarctic glacial history archives on land, related to developments after the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). It considers the glacial-stratigraphic and morphologic records and also biostratigraphical information from moss banks, lake sediments and penguin rookeries, with some reference to relevant glacial marine records. It is concluded that Holocene environmental development in Antarctica differed from that in the Northern Hemisphere. The initial deglaciation of the shelf areas surrounding Antarctica took place before 10 000 14C yrs before present (BP), and was controlled by rising global sea level. This was followed by the deglaciation of some presently ice-free inner shelf and land areas between 10 000 and 8000 yr BP. Continued deglaciation occurred gradually between 8000 yr BP and 5000 yr BP. Mid-Holocene glacial readvances are recorded from various sites around Antarctica. There are strong indications of a circum-Antarctic climate warmer than today 4700-2000 yr BP. The best dated records from the Antarctic Peninsula and coastal Victoria Land suggest climatic optimums there from 4000-3000 yr BP and 3600-2600 yr BP, respectively. Thereafter Neoglacial readvances are recorded. Relatively limited glacial expansions in Antarctica during the past few hundred years correlate with the Little Ice Age in the Northern Hemisphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-344
Number of pages19
JournalAntarctic Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • C chronology
  • Antarctica
  • Climate optimum
  • Deglaciation
  • Holocene

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