Genomic evidence for West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapse during the Last Interglacial

Lau, Sally C.Y.; Wilson, Nerida G.; Golledge, Nicholas R.; Naish, Tim R.; Watts, Phillip C.; Silva, Catarina N.S.; Cooke, Ira R.; Allcock, A. Louise; Mark, Felix C.; Linse, Katrin ORCID:; Strugnell, Jan M.. 2023 Genomic evidence for West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapse during the Last Interglacial. Science, 382 (6677). 1384-1389.

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The marine-based West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) is considered vulnerable to irreversible collapse under future climate trajectories, and its tipping point may lie within the mitigated warming scenarios of 1.5° to 2°C of the United Nations Paris Agreement. Knowledge of ice loss during similarly warm past climates could resolve this uncertainty, including the Last Interglacial when global sea levels were 5 to 10 meters higher than today and global average temperatures were 0.5° to 1.5°C warmer than preindustrial levels. Using a panel of genome-wide, single-nucleotide polymorphisms of a circum-Antarctic octopus, we show persistent, historic signals of gene flow only possible with complete WAIS collapse. Our results provide the first empirical evidence that the tipping point of WAIS loss could be reached even under stringent climate mitigation scenarios.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0036-8075
Additional Keywords: admixture, climate change, demographic modelling, population genomics, Last Interglacial Period, Marine Isotope Stage 5e, sea level, West Antarctic Ice Sheet
Date made live: 29 Dec 2023 09:02 +0 (UTC)

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