Early Last Interglacial ocean warming drove

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time series (CO2, CH4, and N2O) (29) on the AICC2012 age scale (30) (see ... Antarctica (total organic carbon estimated to be 21,000 petagrams, or 21x1018 g) ...... 0.403. Sample plus320m. H3. GCGACAATTACAGTACACACCGCCCGTC.

Early Last Interglacial ocean warming drove substantial ice mass loss from Antarctica

Authors Chris S.M. Turney, Christopher J. Fogwill, Nicholas R. Golledge, Nicholas P. McKay, Erik van Sebille, Richard T. Jones, David Etheridge, Mauro Rubino, David P. Thornton, Siwan M. Davies, Christopher Bronk Ramsey, Zoë Thomas, Michael I. Bird, Niels C. Munksgaard, Mika Kohno, John Woodward, Kate Winter, Laura S. Weyrich, Camilla M. Rootes, Helen Millman, Paul G. Albert, Andres Rivera, Tas van Ommen, Mark Curran, Andrew Moy, Stefan Rahmstorf, Kenji Kawamura, Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand, Michael E. Weber, Christina J. Manning, Jennifer Young and Alan Cooper

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Early Last Interglacial ocean warming drove substantial ice mass loss from Antarctica 1

Title: Early Last Interglacial ocean warming drove substantial ice

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mass loss from Antarctica

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Classification: Physical Sciences

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(Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences)

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Authors and Affiliations

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Chris S.M. Turney1,2,3*, Christopher J. Fogwill1,2,4, Nicholas R. Golledge5,6, Nicholas

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P. McKay7, Erik van Sebille2,8,9, Richard T. Jones10†, David Etheridge11, Mauro

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Rubino4, David P. Thornton11, Siwan M. Davies12, Christopher Bronk Ramsey13, Zoë

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Thomas1,2,3, Michael I. Bird14,15, Niels C. Munksgaard15,16, Mika Kohno17, John

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Woodward18, Kate Winter18, Laura S. Weyrich19,20, Camilla M. Rootes21, Helen

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Millman2, Paul G. Albert13, Andres Rivera22, Tas van Ommen23,24, Mark Curran23,24,

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Andrew Moy23,24, Stefan Rahmstorf25,26, Kenji Kawamura27,28,29 Claus-Dieter

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Hillenbrand30, Michael E. Weber31, Christina J. Manning32, Jennifer Young19,20 and

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Alan Cooper19,20

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1. Palaeontology, Geobiology and Earth Archives Research Centre, School of

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Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales,

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Australia

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2. Climate Change Research Centre, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental

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Sciences, University of New South Wales, Australia

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3. ARC Centre of Excellence in Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, School of

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Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales,

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Australia

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4. School of Geography, Geology and the Environment, Keele University, ST5 5BG,

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UK



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Early Last Interglacial ocean warming drove substantial ice mass loss from Antarctica 26

5. Antarctic Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington 6140,

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New Zealand

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6. GNS Science, Avalon, Lower Hutt, New Zealand

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7. School of Earth and Sustainability, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff,

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Arizona 86011, USA

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8. Grantham Institute & Department of Physics, Imperial College London, London,

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UK

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9. Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht, Utrecht University,

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Utrecht, Netherlands

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10. Department of Geography, Exeter University, Devon, EX4 4RJ, UK

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11. Climate Science Centre, CSIRO Ocean and Atmosphere, Aspendale, Victoria,

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3195 Australia

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12. Department of Geography, Swansea University, Swansea, UK

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13. Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of

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Oxford, Dyson Perrins Building, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3QY, UK

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14. Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science, College of

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Science and Engineering, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia

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15. ARC Centre of Excellence in Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, James Cook

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University, Cairns, Australia

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16. Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin

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University, Australia

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17. Department of Geochemistry, Geoscience Center, University of Göttingen,

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Goldschmidtstr. 1, 37077 Göttingen, Germany

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18. Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Engineering

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and Environment, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8ST, UK

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19. Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, University of Adelaide, Australia



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Early Last Interglacial ocean warming drove substantial ice mass loss from Antarctica 52

20. ARC Centre of Excellence in Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, University of

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Adelaide, Australia

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21. Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, UK

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22. Glaciology and Climate Change Laboratory, Centro de Estudios Cientficos,

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Valdivia, Arturo Prat 514, Chile

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23. Department of the Environment and Energy, Australian Antarctic Division, 203

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Channel Highway, Kingston, Tasmania 7050, Australia

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24. Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, University of

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Tasmania, Private Bag 80, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia

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25. Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), PO Box 60 12 03,

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D-14412 Potsdam, Germany.

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26. University of Potsdam, Institute of Physics and Astronomy, Germany.

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27. National Institute of Polar Research, Research Organizations of Information and

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Systems, 10-3 Midori-cho, Tachikawa, Tokyo 190-8518, Japan

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28. Department of Polar Science, Graduate University for Advanced Studies

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(SOKENDAI), 10-3 Midori-cho, Tachikawa, Tokyo 190-8518, Japan

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29. Institute of Biogeosciences, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science

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and Technology, 2-15 Natsushima-cho, Yokosuka 237-0061, Japan

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30. British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET,

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UK

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31. Steinmann-Institute, University of Bonn, Germany.

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32. Department of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London, TW20

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OEX, UK

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†. Deceased.

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*Corresponding author. E-mail: [email protected]



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Early Last Interglacial ocean warming drove substantial ice mass loss from Antarctica 77

The future response of the Antarctic ice sheets to rising temperatures remains highly

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uncertain (1, 2). An excellent period for assessing the sensitivity of Antarctica to warming

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is the Last Interglacial (LIG; 129-116 kyr) (3-5), which experienced warmer polar

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temperatures (6, 7) and higher global mean sea level (GMSL +6 to 9 m) (3, 8) relative to

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present day. LIG sea level cannot be fully explained by Greenland Ice Sheet melt (4˚C) ocean

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warming required for the loss of the WAIS, exceeding paleoclimate estimates (10,

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22, 27, 28).

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Here we report a new high-resolution record of environmental change and ice flow

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dynamics from the Patriot Hills Blue Ice Area (BIA), exposed in Horseshoe Valley

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(Ellsworth Mountains; see Methods) (Fig. 1). Importantly, Horseshoe Valley is a

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locally-sourced compound glacier system (i.e. with negligible inflow) that is

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buttressed by, but ultimately coalesces with, the Institute Ice Stream via the

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Horseshoe Valley Trough, making the area sensitive to dynamic ice-sheet changes

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across the broader WSE (13). Due to strong prevailing katabatic airflow, an

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extensive BIA (more than 1150 m across) has formed to the leeward side of the

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Patriot Hills, where ancient ice is drawn up from depth within Horseshoe Valley

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(Fig. 1). Regional airborne and detailed local ground-penetrating radar (GPR)

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surveys show a remarkably coherent series of dipping (24-45°) layers, broken by two

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discontinuities, which represent isochrons across the Patriot Hills BIA, extending

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thousands of meters into Horseshoe Valley. The BIA transect spans the time intervals

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0-80 kyr and 130-134 kyr, constrained by analysis of trace gases and geochemically

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identified volcanic layers exposed across the transect which have been Bayesian age



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modelled against the recently compiled continuous 156 kyr global greenhouse gas

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time series (CO2, CH4, and N2O) (29) on the AICC2012 age scale (30) (see

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Methods). The record is located 50 km inland from the modern grounding line of the

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Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf in the Weddell Sea Embayment (WSE) (31) and close to

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the Rutford Ice Stream, one of the largest methane hydrate reserves identified in

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Antarctica (total organic carbon estimated to be 21,000 petagrams, or 21x1018 g)

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(14). Today precipitation at the site is delivered via storms originating from the

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South Atlantic or Weddell Sea. Crucially, the Ellsworth Mountains also lie in a

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sector of the continent that is highly responsive to isostatic rebound under a scenario

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of substantial WAIS mass loss, potentially preserving ice from around the time of the

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LIG in small valley glaciers and higher ground areas (32).

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Results

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The isotopic series of dD across the Patriot Hills BIA exhibits a coherent record of

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relatively low values between 18 and 80 kyr, consistent with a glacial-age sequence

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(Fig. 2). Below these layers and at the periphery of zones of higher ice flow (31) we

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find an older unit of ice exposed at the surface expressed by a step change to

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enriched (interglacial) isotopic values (Fig 2 and S5), implying proximal warmer

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conditions and reduced sea ice extent (33). Importantly, we identify a distinct tephra

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horizon near the boundary of this older unit of ice which, based on major and trace

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element geochemical fingerprinting (Figs 3 and S9), is correlated to a volcanic ash

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from the penultimate deglaciation (Termination II) referred to as Tephra B in marine

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sediments on the West Antarctic continental margin (34) and identified at 1785.14 m

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depth in the Dome Fuji ice core where it is dated to 130.7±1.8 kyr (AICC2012

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timescale) (30, 33, 34). The start of the oldest section of the sequence is dated here to

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Early Last Interglacial ocean warming drove substantial ice mass loss from Antarctica 175

134.1±2.2 kyr, consistent with modelling studies, airborne radio-echo sounding lines,

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and GPR profiles, which imply older ice exists at depth in the Ellsworth Mountains

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(31, 32) (Fig. 1).

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The combined tephra and trace gas analyses suggest a ~50 kyr hiatus after

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Termination II (130.1±1.8 kyr). Radio-echo sounding surveys across the WSE have

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identified a large subglacial basin comprising landforms reflecting restricted,

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dynamic, marine-proximal alpine glaciation, with hanging tributary valleys feeding

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an overdeepened Ellsworth Trough (35). The extensive nature of the subglacial

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features implies substantial and repeated mass loss of the marine sections of the

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WAIS, with the ice margin some 200 km inland of present day (35). However, the

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timing of most recent retreat is currently unknown. Whilst previous surface exposure

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dating in the region has suggested that the WAIS contribution to global sea level rise

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during warmer periods was limited to 3.3 m above present, relatively short-duration

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interglacial periods may have resulted in near-complete deglaciation (36),

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contributing to the sub-glacial landscape identified across the WSE during recent

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surveys (35). Previous work has interpreted erosional features D1 and D2 in the

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Patriot Hills BIA to be a consequence of extensive ice surface lowering in Horseshoe

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Valley (up to ~500 m since the Last Glacial Maximum, 21 kyr) and more exposure of

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katabatic-enhancing nunataks, resulting in increased wind scour (13, 37). Whilst this

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scenario may explain unconformity D0, previous work has demonstrated Horseshoe

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Valley and the wider WSE to be highly sensitive to periods of rapid ice stream

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advance or retreat in the last glacial cycle and Holocene with dramatic reductions in

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surface elevation (13, 37-39). Furthermore, glaciological investigations assessing the

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impact of ice shelf loss on glaciers along the Antarctic Peninsula provides important



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insights, albeit on a smaller scale. The 2002 Larsen B ice shelf collapse led to many

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of the tributary glaciers abruptly changing from a convex to a concave profile (40),

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with relic ice left isolated on the upper flanks of the valleys (41). Both scenarios are

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consistent with extensive grounding line retreat across the inner shelf of the Weddell

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Sea and associated substantial ice loss across the wider WSE (31).

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The ice at Patriot Hills therefore appears to preserve a record of glacier flow in

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Horseshoe Valley up to the moment when the Filcher-Ronne Ice Shelf collapsed,

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after which the sequence likely remained isolated due to regional ice flow

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reconfiguration for multiple millennia; a situation that persisted until the ice surface

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had risen sufficiently to enable the regional ice flow to recover sometime during late

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MIS 5. The presence of a discrete older ice unit along the flanks of the Ellsworth

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Mountains (31) (Figs 1 and S2) and the subsequent inferred highly variable climate

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and/or sea ice extent across the wider WSE (Figs S5 and S11) implies the

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preservation of ice from Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 6/5 (Termination II) and 5/4

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transitions in Horseshoe Valley. Our data provide the first direct evidence for a

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WAIS collapse during the LIG and supports previous suggestions that the southern

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polar region was a major driver of high global sea level (4, 11, 25), most likely at the

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onset of the interglacial (34, 42, 43).

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Discussion

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What could be the cause of this ice loss? Recent work has proposed that the iceberg-

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rafted Heinrich 11 event between 135 and 130 kyr (during Termination II) may have

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significantly reduced North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) formation and shut down



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the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) (12), resulting in a net heat

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transport to the Southern Hemisphere (the bipolar seesaw pattern of northern cooling

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and southern warming) (11) (Fig. 4). Under this scenario, surface cooling during

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Heinrich 11 increased the northern latitudinal temperature gradient and caused a

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southward migration of the Intertropical Convergence Zone and mid-latitude

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Southern Hemisphere westerly airflow (9, 44). In the Southern Ocean, the associated

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northward Ekman transport of cool surface waters (something akin to today; Fig. 1)

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would have been compensated by increased delivery of relatively warm and nutrient-

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rich deep Circumpolar Deep Water onto the Antarctic continental shelf (9, 11, 34,

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44), leading to enhanced thermal erosion of ice at exposed grounding lines (2, 11).

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The precise correlation between the Patriot Hills ice and West Antarctic marine

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records (34) afforded by the Termination II tephra demonstrates for the first time that

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the warming recorded in the BIA is coincident with a major, well-documented peak

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in marine temperatures and productivity around the Antarctic continent and in the

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Southern Ocean (34, 44) (Fig. 2). Recent modelling results suggest that increased

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heat transport beneath the ice shelves can drive extensive grounding-line retreat,

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triggering substantial drawdown of Antarctic ice sheets (9, 15, 27), and projected to

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increase in the WSE during the twenty-first century (17). The subsequent delivery of

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large volumes of associated freshwater into the Southern Ocean during the LIG

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would have reduced Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) production, resulting in

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increased deepwater formation in the North Atlantic (11, 45) (Fig. 4).

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With Southern Ocean warming and concurrent ice-sheet retreat, the large methane

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reservoirs in Antarctic sedimentary basins (e.g. Rutford Ice Stream) would have

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become vulnerable to release (14), contributing to elevated atmospheric levels



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through the LIG (6, 29) (Fig. 2). High-latitude open water and sea ice are rich in

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microbial communities, components of which may be collected by passing storms

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and delivered onto the ice sheet (e.g. prokaryotes, DNA), offering insights into

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offshore environmental processes (46, 47). To investigate environmental changes

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prior to and after the ice-sheet reconfiguration recorded in the Patriot Hills BIA, we

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applied a strict ancient DNA methodology and sequencing to provide the first

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description of ancient microbial species locked within the ice (Methods). Methane-

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utilizing microorganisms were found in three samples along the Patriot Hills transect

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and were absent from other samples and laboratory controls. The most striking

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feature of the Patriot Hills BIA genetic record was detected immediately prior to

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inferred ice loss, where Methyloversatilis microbes dominated the detectable

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microbial diversity (~130 kyr) (Fig. 2 and Fig. S13). Methyloversatilis was only

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found in high abundance in this sample (with trace amounts identified at ~22 kyr).

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Crucially, Methyloversatilis species are facultative methylotrophs (48), consistent

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with elevated levels of CH4 in the water column near the end of Termination II.

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The inferred substantial mass loss across the WSE implies a major role for ocean

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warming during Termination II and the LIG. The most comprehensive published

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high-latitude (≥40˚S) network of quantified sea surface temperature (SST) estimates

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suggests an early LIG (~130 kyr) warming of 1.6±0.9˚C relative to present day (22,

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28), providing an upper limit on the sensitivity of Antarctic ice sheets to ocean

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temperatures. To investigate ice-sheet dynamics around the Patriot Hills and across

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Antarctica in response to a range of ocean warming scenarios (1˚-3˚C), we applied

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the Parallel Ice Sheet Model v.0.6.3 (Fig. 5) (15). The pattern of circum-Antarctic

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ocean warming during this time period is not well established so we assume a



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spatially-uniform warming pattern relative to present day temperatures. Our model

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time series illustrates that the majority of ice loss takes place within the first two

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millennia, depending on the magnitude of the forcing (Fig. 5 and Table 1). This

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corresponds to the time period of inferred loss of marine-based sectors of the ice

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sheet (Fig. 2), primarily in West Antarctica. In contrast to some whole-continent

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models, our simulations do not include mechanisms by which a grounded ice cliff

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may collapse (10), a process that produces considerably faster and greater ice margin

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retreat than reported here.

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For the 2˚C warmer than present day scenario, our model predicts a contribution to

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GMSL rise of 3.2 m in the first millennium of forcing (Fig. 5). The loss of the

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Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf within 200 years of warming triggers a non-linear response

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by removing the buttressing force that stabilises grounded ice across large parts of

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the WSE and the EAIS (most notably the Recovery Basin) (Fig. 6), consistent with

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other modelling studies (9, 26, 27). Ongoing slower ice loss subsequently occurs

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around the margins of East Antarctica, producing a sustained contribution to sea-

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level rise.

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Previous work has suggested that the Ellsworth Mountains would have experienced a

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relatively large positive isostatic adjustment (~500 m) accompanying the loss of the

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WAIS (32). To investigate how an evolving ice-sheet geometry would manifest

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across the wider region, we extracted local ice surface and bed elevations for the

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WSE from the model simulation that uses a 2°C ocean warming with no atmospheric

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warming. Fig. 6 illustrates the sequence of events that take place as the ice sheet



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evolves. First, loss of the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf in the Weddell Sea triggers a

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non-linear response, removing the buttressing force that stabilises grounded ice

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across large parts of the WSE and the EAIS (most notably the Recovery Basin). The

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loss of back-stress allows for an acceleration of grounded ice and a rapid but short-

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lived thinning episode (32). At the Patriot Hills, bedrock uplift of c. 30 m over this

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0.2 kyr period is outpaced by a surface lowering of c. 75 m, implying a net ice-sheet

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thinning of around 105 m. Subsequently, regional-scale isostatic uplift elevates both

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the bed topography (c. 250 m) and ice-sheet surface (c. 350 m) relative to the initial

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configuration. The difference between these two values reflects positive net mass

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balance of the ice sheet here (~0.055 m/year). After around 2.5 kyr, renewed

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dynamic thinning of the ice sheet in the Patriot Hills leads to a rapid thinning and

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lowering of the ice sheet surface, at a rate exceeding regional-scale bedrock

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subsidence (120 m over 0.4 kyr, or 0.3 m/year, compared to c. 70 m over 3.2 kyr, or

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0.022 m/year respectively) (Fig. 6). The Patriot Hills record is consistent with the

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loss of grounded ice early in the LIG (32) as a consequence of regional ice dynamic

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changes and isostatically-driven isolation of Horseshoe Valley from sustained ocean

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forcing. For the 1˚ and 3˚ warming scenarios, similar spatial losses are modelled,

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with GMSL rises of 1.8 and 4.0 m for the first millennium, respectively (Table 1).

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Atmospheric warming of the magnitude suggested in Antarctic cores (>4˚C) (24, 25,

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49-51) adds an additional meter of equivalent global sea level within the first

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millennium (Fig. S15). Whilst some modelling studies have argued the loss of the

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Filchner–Ronne Ice Shelf does not display a strong marine ice sheet instability

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feedback (52), our results suggest otherwise. The ice sheet modelling outputs support

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our interpretation of the Patriot Hill BIA record, demonstrating the substantial ice-

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sheet flow reconfiguration and resultant isostatic response that would occur under

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such a scenario (Fig. 6).



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The evidence for substantial mass loss from Antarctica in the early LIG has

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important implications for the future (3, 42). Our field-based reconstruction and

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modelling results support a growing body of evidence that the Antarctic ice sheets

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are highly sensitive to ocean temperatures. Driven by enhanced basal melt through

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increased heat transport into cavities beneath the ice shelves (2, 15), this process is

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projected to increase with a weakening AMOC during the twenty-first century (1, 16-

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18), and one which may lead to other positive feedbacks such as destabilization of

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methane hydrate reserves (14).

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Acknowledgements

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CSMT, CJF, MIB, AC and NRG are supported by their respective Australian

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Research Council (ARC) and Royal Society of New Zealand fellowships. Fieldwork

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was undertaken under ARC Linkage Project (LP120200724), supported by Linkage

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Partner Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE). JW and KW undertook GPR

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survey of the Patriot Hills record through NERC support with logistical field support

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from the British Antarctic Survey. SMD acknowledges financial support from Coleg

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Cymraeg Cenedlaethol and the European Research Council. KK was supported by

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JSPS KAKENHI. We thank Dr Chris Hayward and Dr Gwydion Jones for electron

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microprobe assistance, Kathryn Lacey and Gareth James for help with preparing the

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tephra samples, Drs Nelia Dunbar, Nels Iverson and Andrei Kurbatov for discussions

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on the tephra correlations, CSIRO GASLAB personnel for support of gas analysis,

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Prof. Bill Sturges and Dr Sam Allin of the Centre for Ocean and Atmospheric

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Sciences (University of East Anglia, UK) for performing the sulfur hexafluoride

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analyses, Levke Caesar (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research) for



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preparing the recent trend in SSTs in Fig. 1, Vicki Taylor (British Ocean Sediment

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Core Research Facility, Southampton) for assistance with marine core sampling, and

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Dr Emilie Capron (British Antarctic Survey) for advice on reconstructing early

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southern Last Interglacial temperatures. CSIRO’s contribution was supported in part

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by the Australian Climate Change Science Program (ACCSP), an Australian

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Government Initiative.

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Author contributions

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CSMT, CJF, NRG and RTJ conceived the research; CT, CJF, NRG, AC, LW, JY,

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SMD, PGA, CJM, RTJ, DE, MR, DPT, CBR, ZT, MB, NCM, MK, JW and KW

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designed the methods and performed the analysis; CT wrote the paper with input

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from all authors. There are no competing interests.



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Early Last Interglacial ocean warming drove substantial ice mass loss from Antarctica

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Fig. 1 Location and age profile of Patriot Hills blue ice area. (a) Location of

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Antarctic ice and marine records discussed in this study and austral spring-summer

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(October-March) sea surface temperature trends (over the period 1981-2010;

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HadISST data). (b) Trace gas (circles), tephra (triangles) and boundary (square) age

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solutions for surface ice along transect B-B’ relative to an arbitrary datum along the

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transect (displayed in panel d). Dashed lines denote unconformities D0-D2 at their



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surface expression. (c) Basal topography of the Ellsworth Subglacial Highlands

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(West Antarctica) with the locations of airborne radio-echo sounding transect A-A’

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(displayed in panel e) and Rutford Ice Stream (IS) (31). (d) The location of Patriot

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Hills in Horseshoe Valley (LIMA background image) with the BIA climate line

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(marked by transect B-B’), dominant ice flow direction and distance to grounding

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line. The Horseshoe Valley, Independence and Ellsworth troughs are given by the

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initials HV, IT and ET respectively. (e) Airborne radio-echo sounding cross section

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of ice within Horseshoe Valley, Independence and Ellsworth troughs (modified from

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ref. (31)). Digitization highlights basal topography (brown), lower basal ice unit

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(grey) and upper ice unit (red) as well as internal stratigraphic features (black for

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observed, dashed for inferred, and purple for best estimate).



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Early Last Interglacial ocean warming drove substantial ice mass loss from Antarctica

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Fig. 2. Climate, ocean circulation and sea level changes over the past 140 kyr. (a)

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d18O record from the North Greenland (NGRIP) ice core (55, 56). (b) Bermuda Rise

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ratio of 0.093 marking sluggish/absent AMOC (12). Selected North Atlantic

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Heinrich (H) events and reduced AMOC shown. (c) Biogenic opal flux from ODP

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Site 1094 (53.2˚S) as a measure of wind-driven upwelling in the Southern Ocean

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(44). (d) Comparison between the recently compiled global atmospheric methane



Pa/230Th data (reversed axis; 1s uncertainty) with dashed line denoting production

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time series (red line; 2s envelope) (29) with the methane record from the West

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Antarctic Patriot Hills (black circles with 1s uncertainty; open circles mark

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anomalously high concentration data excluded from age model). (e) Patriot Hills dD

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record with mean Holocene values; envelope 1s. Grey shading denotes the timing of

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the surface elevation change across the Weddell Sea Embayment as indicated by the

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hiatus in the Patriot Hills sequence and inferred substantial Antarctic ice mass loss,

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consistent with the reported divergence of the isotopic signal observed between the

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horizontal Mount Moulton ice core record from the WAIS and East Antarctic ice

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cores (24, 25, 33), and peak global sea level (8). Triangles denote the presence of

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geochemically-identified tephra layers in the Patriot Hills record. Pie-chart

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representation of percentage methane-utilising bacteria in 16S rRNA samples from

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Patriot Hills; crosses denote absence of these bacteria (Methods). (f) Temporal

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changes in ocean productivity with peak productivity (PP; green shading) during

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interglacials and subsequent enhanced content of calcareous microfossils in Antarctic

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continental margin sediments (red shading) (34). Dashed black line shows position of

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tephra identified in the Patriot Hills (-340 m), Dome Fuji (1785.14 m) and Tephra B

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in marine sediments from the West Antarctic continental margin. (g) East Antarctic

404

Dome Fuji d18O record (30, 33). (h) Reconstructed relative sea level curve with 2s

405

envelope (8). Yellow shading highlights the timing of iceberg-rafted Heinrich debris

406

event 11 (H11), when large amounts of iceberg-rafted debris were deposited in the

407

North Atlantic (11) and the 231Pa/230Th ratio on Bermuda Rise shifted towards the

408

production ratio of 0.093, representative of sluggish or absent AMOC (12). Circled



19

Early Last Interglacial ocean warming drove substantial ice mass loss from Antarctica 409

numbers 1 and 2 denote enhanced upwelling-induced warming in the Southern

410

Ocean and Antarctic ice mass loss, respectively.

411 412

Fig. 3. Average trace element concentrations of Patriot Hills tephra at -340 m and

413

Tephra B from marine sediment cores PC108 (4.65 m depth) and PC111 (6.86 m

414

depth) (34) normalised to Primitive Mantle (53) (a). Biplots show comparison

415

between selected trace element concentrations of the tephra in the different

416

sequences. Error bars on plots show 2s of replicate analyses of MPI-DING

417

StHs6/80-G (54), but errors are typically smaller than the data symbols (b-e).

20

Early Last Interglacial ocean warming drove substantial ice mass loss from Antarctica a Onset Heinrich 11 AIS

ITCZ CH4

0

AAIW

1

D e pth (k m)

Heinrich 11 icebergs

Sea ice

NAIW

2 AABW

3

AABW

4 5 60° S

30° S

b Late Heinrich 11 0

30° N

60° N

ITCZ

AIS CH4 AAIW

1

D e pth (k m)



NADW

2 3

AABW

4 5 60° S

30° S

c Early Last Interglacial



30° N

60° N

ITCZ

AIS 0 AAIW

D e pth (k m)

1 2 3

NADW AABW

4 5 60° S

30° S



30° N

60° N

Latitude

418 419

Fig. 4. Ocean-atmospheric interactions during Termination II and the Last

420

Interglacial. Panels show changing Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation

421

(AMOC) in response to iceberg discharge (a,b) in the North Atlantic (Heinrich event

422

11) during Termination II and (c) from the Antarctic Ice Sheets (AIS) during the Last

423

Interglacial, with inferred shifts in atmospheric circulation including mid-latitude

424

Southern Hemisphere westerly (crossed circle) airflow and Intertropical

21

Early Last Interglacial ocean warming drove substantial ice mass loss from Antarctica 425

Convergence Zone (ITCZ) (9, 11, 44, 45). Vertical arrows denote CH4 and heat flux

426

associated with Antarctic coastal easterly (dot in circle) and westerly (crossed circle)

427

airflow (2, 14). AABW, AAIW, NAIW and NADW define Antarctic Bottom Water,

428

Antarctic Intermediate Water, North Atlantic Intermediate Water and North Atlantic

429

Deep Water, respectively.



22

Early Last Interglacial ocean warming drove substantial ice mass loss from Antarctica

Dome Fuji Patriot Hills

Mt Moulton

Taylor Glacier

430 431

Fig. 5. Modelled Antarctic ice-sheet evolution under Last Interglacial forcing. (a)

432

Sea-level equivalent mass loss for ice-sheet simulations forced by a range of air and

433

ocean temperature anomalies relative to present day. ‘dT’ and ‘dOT’ describes

434

atmospheric and ocean temperature anomalies respectively. (b-d) shows Antarctic

435

Ice Sheet extent and elevation with 2˚C warmer ocean temperatures over time

436

intervals of 1, 2 and 5 kyr, respectively (with no atmospheric warming); equivalent

437

sea-level contribution is given in the bottom left corner of each panel. Locations of

438

Patriot Hills (Ellsworth Mountains, West Antarctic Ice Sheet) and ice core records

439

discussed in this study are shown in panel b. Inset box in (b) outlines region shown in

440

Fig. 6.



23

Early Last Interglacial ocean warming drove substantial ice mass loss from Antarctica Ice−shelf collapse Regional uplift Dynamic thinning

a 600

b

0 yr

c

200 yr

d

400 yr

e

800 yr

f

1200 yr

g

3000 yr

Bed elevation (m)

1300 400

Surface elevation (m)

1400 500

1200 300

0

441

1000 2000 3000 4000 5000

Years

442

Fig. 6. Bed (black line) and surface (blue) elevation changes at Patriot Hills

443

(Ellsworth Mountains, West Antarctic Ice Sheet) in response to 2˚C warmer ocean

444

temperatures over a time interval of 5 kyr (with no atmospheric warming) (a). Bed

445

(black line) and surface (blue) elevation changes vs time, with phases of the

446

prevalence of particular processes, such as ice-shelf collapse (mint shaded), regional

447

uplift (grey shaded) and dynamic thinning (light-brown shaded), highlighted. (b-g)

448

Selected time slices corresponding to dashed lines in panel a showing ice shelf extent

449

and ice sheet elevation in the Weddell Sea Embayment (WSE) over the first 3 kyr.

450

Location of Patriot Hills is marked by the red square; grey shaded areas are ice-shelf

451

covered, whilst white areas are free of both grounded and floating glacial ice.



24

Early Last Interglacial ocean warming drove substantial ice mass loss from Antarctica 1000 yrs

2000 yrs

5000 yrs

10,000 yrs

1˚C SST warming 0˚C air

1.81

3.82

4.98

5.25

2˚C air

2.13

4.82

5.84

6.04

4˚C air

2.47

5.84

6.89

7.28

0˚C air

3.20

5.32

5.86

6.81

2˚C air

3.61

5.97

6.95

7.69

4˚C air

4.19

6.83

8.37

9.82

0˚C air

4.01

5.77

6.58

8.22

2˚C air

4.66

6.25

7.46

9.16

4˚C air

5.11

7.17

9.01

10.92

2˚C SST warming

3˚C SST warming

452

Table 1 Sea-level equivalent mass loss (meters) for Antarctic ice-sheet simulations

453

forced over 10,000 years by range of annual air and ocean temperature anomalies

454

relative to present day.



25

Early Last Interglacial ocean warming drove substantial ice mass loss from Antarctica 455

METHODS

456

Patriot Hills

457

Site description and geomorphological context. The Patriot Hills BIA (Horseshoe

458

Valley, Ellsworth Mountains; 80°18′S, 81°21′W) is a slow flowing (3 m depth to

515

minimise modern air contamination and/or alteration (60). The samples were double

516

bagged and sealed in the field, and transported frozen to CSIRO’s ICELAB facility

517

in Melbourne for the extraction and measurement of trace gases using a modified dry

518

extraction ‘cheese grater’ and cryogenic trapping technique (61, 62). The trapped air

519

samples were analysed by gas chromatography (GC) and the trace gas concentrations

520

are reported against the calibration scales maintained by CSIRO GASLAB (63).

521

Where sufficient material was available, duplicates were analysed.

522

The presence of visible tephra layers (volcanic ash horizons) provides

523

additional chronological control for the Patriot Hills BIA. Here we report two new

524

tephras from Patriot Hills at 10 m and -340 m, both observed as ~4 cm units of

525

dispersed shards (Fig. S7). Shards were extracted by centrifugation of the melted ice

526

samples and put onto a glass slide for electron microprobe analysis. The slides were

527

ground and polished using silica carbide paper and decreasing grades of diamond

528

suspension to expose fresh sections of glass. Single-grain analyses of ten oxides were

529

performed on a Cameca SX-100 electron microprobe at the Tephrochronology

530

Analytical Unit, University of Edinburgh. See SI for operating conditions (64).

531

Geochemical results are provided in Table S1. The shards from 10 m are bimodal,



28

Early Last Interglacial ocean warming drove substantial ice mass loss from Antarctica 532

with a basanitic and trachytic composition (Fig. S8). The shards from -340 m are

533

trachytic in composition and exhibit a tightly-clustered population (Fig. S9). Both

534

were compared to published tephras from across Antarctica (34, 65-75). The 10 m

535

tephra has the closest match to be the basanite Tephra C from the WAIS Divide at

536

3149.12 m (Similarity Coefficient or SC = 0.98), equivalent to 44.9±0.3 kyr (75).

537

The -340 m tephra revealed the closest match to a tephra layer in the Dome Fuji ice

538

core at 1785.14 m depth (SC = 0.966; equivalent to 130.7±1.8 kyr on the AICC2012

539

timescale (30, 68, 76); data previously unpublished).

540

A widespread tephra found in marine sedimentary records on the West

541

Antarctic continental margin (Tephra B) has been proposed to correlate to the tephra

542

at Dome Fuji 1785.14 m but the correlation has until now remained only tentative in

543

the absence of any reported geochemistry from the latter (34). Here we find the

544

major oxides from Tephra B have a close match to Patriot Hills -340 m (SC = 0.948),

545

consistent with this interpretation. To test this correlation, we undertook trace

546

element analysis of the glass shards from Patriot Hills at -340 m. Unfortunately, the

547

Dome Fuji shards were too thin for analysis. However, we were able to undertake

548

trace element analyses on Tephra B samples from two marine sediment cores from

549

the West Antarctic continental margin: PC108 (4.65 m depth) and PC111 (6.86 m

550

depth) (34). Trace element analysis of volcanic glass shards were performed using an

551

Agilent 8900 triple quadrupole ICP-MS (ICP-QQQ) coupled to a Resonetics 193nm

552

ArF excimer laser-ablation in the Department of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway,

553

University of London. See SI for operating conditions (77). Accuracies of LA-ICP-

554

MS analyses of ATHO-G and reference StHs6/80-G MPI-DING (54) glass were

555

typically ≤ 5%. Identical trace element glass chemistries (Fig. 2, Table S2) strongly

556

support the correlation of Patriot Hills -340 m tephra horizon and the marine West

557

Antarctic Tephra B (34) which is in turn correlated to Dome Fuji 1785.14 m (33, 34,



29

Early Last Interglacial ocean warming drove substantial ice mass loss from Antarctica 558

68, 76), and probably originates from the Marie Byrd Land volcanic province (West

559

Antarctica) (34). The recognition of a widespread tephra horizon across a large sector

560

of the Antarctic at the very onset of the LIG provides a time-parallel marker horizon

561

crucial for future studies investigating Antarctic ice-sheet mass loss.

562

To develop an age model we undertook Bayesian age modelling using a

563

Poisson process deposition model (P_sequence) in the software package OxCal

564

v.4.2.4 (https://c14.arch.ox.ac.uk/) (Tables S3 and S4) (78, 79). Using Bayes

565

theorem, the algorithms employed sample possible solutions with a probability that is

566

the product of the prior and likelihood probabilities (80, 81). ‘Calibration curves’

567

with 20 year resolution were developed for the three trace gas species using the 156

568

kyr time series (29). Taking into account the deposition model, the reported ages of

569

the tephra layers, and the common age solutions offered by the trace gas

570

measurements, the posterior probability densities quantify the most probable age

571

distributions. The available constraints suggest the 1156-m long Patriot Hills BIA

572

transect spans time intervals from ~134.2 to ~1.3 kyr comprising four key zones: 4 (-

573

362 to -339 m, equivalent to 134.2±2.2 to 130.1±1.8 kyr), 3 (-326 to 240 m,

574

equivalent to 80±6.1 to 22.7±2.8 kyr), 2 (240 to 360 m, equivalent to 22.7±2.8 to

575

10.3±0.4 kyr) and 1 (360 to 800 m, 10.3±0.4 to 1.3±0.6 kyr). The Agreement Index

576

for the Patriot Hills age model was 101.6% (Aoverall=71.2%), exceeding the

577

recommended rejection Agreement Index threshold of 60% (79) (Methods).

578

Regardless of the relatively large uncertainty associated with the oldest section of ice

579

(zone 4), the identification of the 130.7±1.8 kyr (AICC2012 timescale) Tephra

580

B/Dome Fuji 1785.14 m (30, 33, 34) within Patriot Hills at -340 m unambiguously

581

demonstrates the presence of Termination II-age ice.

582





30

Early Last Interglacial ocean warming drove substantial ice mass loss from Antarctica 583

Isotopes. δD and δ18O isotopic measurements were performed between 1 and 3 m

584

resolution at James Cook University (JCU) using Diffusion Sampling - Cavity Ring-

585

down Spectrometry (DS-CRDS) (International Atomic Energy WICO Lab ID.

586

16139) (82). This system continuously converts liquid water into water vapour for

587

real-time stable isotope analysis by laser spectroscopy (Picarro L2120-i, Sunnyvale,

588

CA, USA). See SI for operating conditions. To ensure reproducibility, a subset of

589

samples was rerun at UNSW ICELAB for δD and δ18O using a Los Gatos Research

590

Liquid Water Isotope Analyser 24d (International Atomic Energy WICO Lab ID.

591

16117). Reported overall analytical precision on long term ice core standards is

592

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