Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Stability of the Antarctic Ice Sheet during the pre-Industrial Holocene

Jones, R.; Johnson, J.; Lin, Y.; Mackintosh, A.; Sefton, J.; Smith, J.; Thomas, E.; Whitehouse, P.

Stability of the Antarctic Ice Sheet during the pre-Industrial Holocene Thumbnail


R. Jones

J. Johnson

A. Mackintosh

J. Sefton

J. Smith

E. Thomas


The rate and magnitude of the Antarctic Ice Sheet (AIS) contribution to global sea-level rise beyond 2100 CE remains highly uncertain. Past changes of the AIS, however, offer opportunities to understand contemporary and future ice sheet behaviour. In this Review, we outline how the AIS evolved through the pre-industrial Holocene, 11,700 years ago to 1850 CE. Three main phases of ice sheet behaviour are identified: a period of rapid ice volume loss across all sectors in the Early and Mid Holocene; a retreat inland of the present-day ice sheet margin in some sectors, followed by readvance; and continued ice volume loss in several sectors during the past few millennia, and in some areas up to and into the industrial era. Global sea levels rose by 2.4–12 m owing to the period of rapid Antarctic ice loss and possibly fell by 0.35–1.2 m owing to subsequent readvance. Changes in the AIS during the Holocene were likely driven by similar processes to those acting today and predicted for the future, which are associated with oceanic and atmospheric conditions as well as bed topography. Further work is required to better understand these processes and to quantify Antarctica’s contribution to past sea-level change.


Jones, R., Johnson, J., Lin, Y., Mackintosh, A., Sefton, J., Smith, J., …Whitehouse, P. (2022). Stability of the Antarctic Ice Sheet during the pre-Industrial Holocene. Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, 3(8), 500-515.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 13, 2022
Online Publication Date Jul 12, 2022
Publication Date 2022-08
Deposit Date Jun 7, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jan 12, 2023
Journal Nature Reviews Earth & Environment
Print ISSN 2662-138X
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 3
Issue 8
Pages 500-515


Accepted Journal Article (1.2 Mb)

Copyright Statement
This version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review (when applicable) and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at:

You might also like

Downloadable Citations