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The deglaciation of the Americas during the Last Glacial Termination

Palacios, David; Stokes, Chris R.; Phillips, Fred M.; Clague, John J.; Alcalá-Reygosa, Jesus; Andres, Nuria; Angel, Isandra; Blard, Pierre-Henri; Briner, Jason P.; Hall, Brenda L.; Dahms, Dennis; Hein, Andrew S.; Jomelli, Vincent; Mark, Bryan G.; Martini, Mateo A.; Moreno, Patricio; Riedel, Jon; Sagredo, Esteban; Stansell, Nathan D.; Vazquez-Selem, Lorenzo; Vuille, Mathias; Ward, Dylan J.

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David Palacios

Fred M. Phillips

John J. Clague

Jesus Alcalá-Reygosa

Nuria Andres

Isandra Angel

Pierre-Henri Blard

Jason P. Briner

Brenda L. Hall

Dennis Dahms

Andrew S. Hein

Vincent Jomelli

Bryan G. Mark

Mateo A. Martini

Patricio Moreno

Jon Riedel

Esteban Sagredo

Nathan D. Stansell

Lorenzo Vazquez-Selem

Mathias Vuille

Dylan J. Ward


This paper reviews current understanding of deglaciation in North, Central and South America from the Last Glacial Maximum to the beginning of the Holocene. Together with paleoclimatic and paleoceanographic data, we compare and contrast the pace of deglaciation and the response of glaciers to major climate events. During the Global Last Glacial Maximum (GLGM, 26.5-19 ka), average temperatures decreased 4° to 8°C in the Americas, but precipitation varied strongly throughout this large region. Many glaciers in North and Central America achieved their maximum extent during the GLGM, whereas others advanced even farther during the subsequent Heinrich Stadial 1 (HS-1). Glaciers in the Andes also expanded during the GLGM, but that advance was not the largest, except on Tierra del Fuego. HS-1 (17.5-14.6 ka) was a time of general glacier thickening and advance throughout most of North and Central America, and in the tropical Andes; however, glaciers in the temperate and subpolar Andes thinned and retreated during this period. During the Bølling-Allerød interstadial (B-A, 14.6-12.9 ka), glaciers retreated throughout North and Central America and, in some cases, completely disappeared. Many glaciers advanced during the Antarctic Cold Reversal (ACR, 14.6-12.9 ka) in the tropical Andes and Patagonia. There were small advances of glaciers in North America, Central America and in northern South America (Venezuela) during the Younger Dryas (12.9-11.7 ka), but glaciers in central and southern South America retreated during this period, except on the Altiplano where advances were driven by an increase in precipitation. Taken together, we suggest that there was a climate compensation effect, or ‘seesaw’, between the hemispheres, which affected not only marine currents and atmospheric circulation, but also the behavior of glaciers. This seesaw is consistent with the opposing behavior of many glaciers in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.


Palacios, D., Stokes, C. R., Phillips, F. M., Clague, J. J., Alcalá-Reygosa, J., Andres, N., …Ward, D. J. (2020). The deglaciation of the Americas during the Last Glacial Termination. Earth-Science Reviews, 203, Article 103113.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 3, 2020
Online Publication Date Feb 5, 2020
Publication Date Apr 30, 2020
Deposit Date Feb 12, 2020
Publicly Available Date Feb 5, 2021
Journal Earth-Science Reviews
Print ISSN 0012-8252
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 203
Article Number 103113


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