Glacier-based climate reconstructions for the last glacial–interglacial transition: Arthur's Pass, New Zealand (43°S)

Shaun R. Eaves, Brian M. Anderson, Andrew N. Mackintosh

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Geological records of mountain glacier fluctuations provide useful evidence for tracing the magnitude and rate of past temperature change. In this study, we present air temperature reconstructions for the last glacial termination in New Zealand derived using snowline reconstructions and numerical glacier modelling. We target the Arthur's Pass moraines in the Otira River catchment, which have previously been dated to the Lateglacial using cosmogenic 10Be. Recalculation of these exposure ages using a locally calibrated 10Be production rate indicates that these moraines formed ca. 16–14 ka. Our glacier modelling experiments and snowline reconstructions exhibit good agreement and show that the Arthur's Pass moraines formed in a climate that was 2.2–3.5 °C colder than present. Combining our results with other, proximal glacier records shows that ice in this catchment retreated ca. 50 km from the coastal plain to the main divide during the interval 17–15 ka, in response to a temperature increase of at least ca. 3 °C. Over half of this retreat occurred after the glacier had withdrawn from an overdeepened basin. Thus, we conclude that temperature increase was the primary driver of widespread and rapid glacier retreat in New Zealand at the onset of the last glacial termination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)877-887
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • glacier modelling
  • Heinrich Stadial 1
  • last glacial termination
  • palaeoclimate
  • Southern Hemisphere

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