Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Mountain uplift and the glaciation of North America – a sensitivity study

By G.L. Foster, D.J. Lunt and R.R. Parrish


The Miocene (24 to 5 million years ago) was<br/>a period of relative global warmth compared to the Quaternary<br/>(2 million years ago to present; e.g. Zachos et al.,<br/>2001) and was characterised by the intermittent glaciation<br/>of Antarctica only. Paradoxically, the majority of available<br/>proxy data suggest that during the Miocene, pCO2 was similar,<br/>or even lower, than the pre-industrial levels (280 ppmv;<br/>Pagani et al., 1999; Pearson and Palmer, 2000; K¨urschner<br/>et al., 1996, 2008) and at times probably crossed the modelled<br/>threshold value required for sustained glaciation in the<br/>Northern Hemisphere (DeConto et al., 2008). Records of<br/>ice rafted debris and the oxygen isotope composition of benthic<br/>foraminifera suggest that at several times over the last<br/>25 million years substantial amounts of continental ice did<br/>build up in the Northern Hemisphere but none of these led<br/>to prolonged glaciation. In this contribution, we review evidence<br/>that suggests that in the Miocene the North American<br/>Cordillera was, at least in parts, considerably lower than today.<br/>We present new GCM simulations that imply that small<br/>amounts of uplift of the North American Cordillera result<br/>in significant cooling of the northern North American Continent.<br/>Offline ice sheet modelling, driven by these GCM<br/>outputs, suggests that with a reduced topography, inception<br/>of the Cordilleran ice sheet is prohibited. This suggests that<br/>uplift of the North American Cordillera in the Late Miocene<br/>may have played an important role in priming the climate for<br/>the intensification of Northern Hemisphere glaciation in the<br/>Late Pliocene

Year: 2010
OAI identifier:
Provided by: e-Prints Soton

Suggested articles


  1. (2005). A critical evaluation of the boron isotope-pH proxy: The accuracy of ancient pH estimates, doi
  2. (1979). A dynamic thermodynamic sea ice model, doi
  3. (1999). A thermomechanical model of ice flow in west antarctica, doi
  4. (2002). A.: Is the gulf stream responsible for europe’s mild winters, doi
  5. (2010). Alkenone and boron based PlioPleistocene pCO2 records, doi
  6. (1997). An 18 million year record of vegetation and climate change in northwestern Canada and Alaska: Tectonic and global climatic correlates, doi
  7. (2008). An Early Cenozoic perspective on greenhouse warming and carbon-cycle dynamics, doi
  8. (2000). Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations over the past 60 million years,
  9. (1983). Cenozoic thermal evolution and tectonics of the coast mountains of British Columbia 1. Fission-track dating, apparent uplift rates, and patterns of uplift, doi
  10. (2006). Cenozoic topographic and climatic response to changing tectonic boundary conditions in western doi
  11. (2007). Climate models and their evaluation, in: Cilmate Models and Their Evaluation. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, edited by:
  12. Closure of the Panama Seaway during the Pliocene: Implications for climate and Northern Hemisphere Glaciation, doi
  13. (1997). Driving a high-resolution dynamic ice sheet model with gcm climate: Ice-sheet initiation at 116 000 bp,
  14. (2002). Environmental change in the Great Plains: An isotopic record from fossil horses, doi
  15. (1988). Eocene extensional tectonics and geochronology of the southern Omineca Belt, British-Columbia and Washington, doi
  16. (1989). Forcing of the Late Cenozoic Northern Hemisphere climate by plateau uplift in southern Asia and the America West, doi
  17. (2010). Foster et al.: Mountain uplift and the glaciation of doi
  18. (2000). Growth increments in gomphotherium tusks and implications for late Miocene climate change in doi
  19. (2009). High Earth-system climate sensitivity determined from Pliocene carbon dioxide concentrations, doi
  20. (2010). II: Absolute chronology for major pleistocene advances of the laurentide ice sheet, doi
  21. (1988). Influence of Late Cenozoic mountain building on ocean geochemical cycles, doi
  22. (2009). Investigating the evolution of major Northern Hemisphere ice sheets during the last glacialinterglacial cycle, doi
  23. (1990). Isopycnal mixing in ocean circulation models, doi
  24. (1994). Late Cenozoic structure and stratigraphy of south-central Wasthington, doi
  25. (1999). Late Miocene atmospheric CO2 concentrations and the expansion of C4 grasses, doi
  26. (2002). Late miocene exhumation and uplift of the washington cascade range, doi
  27. (2004). Late Oligocene bunch grassland and Early Miocene sod grassland paleosols from central doi
  28. Late Pliocene Greenland glaciation controlled by a decline in atmospheric CO2 levels, doi
  29. (2008). Miocene tectonics and climate forcing of biodiversity, doi
  30. (1969). Miocene-Pliocene glaciations in southern Alaska, doi
  31. (1995). Modelling arctic climate change, doi
  32. (2010). Mountain uplift and the glaciation of North America doi
  33. (1992). Neogene assemblages, in: Geology of the Cordilleran Orogen in Canada, doi
  34. (1997). Neogene expansion of the North American prairie,
  35. (1996). Oak leaves as biosensors of Late Neogene and Early Pleistocene paleoatmospheric CO2 concentrations, doi
  36. (2002). Oxygen isotope evidence for progressive uplift of the Cascade Range, Oregon, Earth Planet. doi
  37. (2005). Oxygen isotope evidence for the Late Cenozoic development of an orographic rain shadow in eastern Washington, doi
  38. (1998). Paleobotanical evidence of Eocene and Oligocene paleoaltitudes in midlatitude western doi
  39. (1966). Palynology of late tertiary sediments from Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia, doi
  40. (1991). Parameterization of melt rate and surface temperature on the Greenland ice sheet,
  41. (1997). Parametrisation of momentum transport by convection ii: Tests in single column and general circulation models, doi
  42. (2001). Post 10-ma uplift and exhumation of the northern Coast Mountains, doi
  43. (1991). Quaternary glaciation and sedimentation, in: Geology of the cordilleran orogen in Canada, edited by:
  44. (2003). Rapid Cenozoic glaciation of Antarctica induced by declining atmospheric CO2, doi
  45. (2000). Reconstructing the paleotopography of mountain belts from the isotopic composition of authigenic minerals, doi
  46. (2008). Rise of the Andes, doi
  47. (1980). Seamount loading and stress in the ocean lithosphere, doi
  48. (1989). Sensitivity of climate to Late Cenozoic uplift in southern Asia and the American West: Numerical experiments, doi
  49. (2005). Slow dynamics of the doi
  50. (2004). Spatial and temporal variation of Cenozoic surface elevation in the Great Basin and Sierra Nevada,
  51. (2007). Stable isotope-based Paleoaltimetry, doi
  52. (2005). Subduction zone backarcs, mobile belts, and orogenic heat, doi
  53. (1990). Surface uplift, uplift of rocks and exhumation of rocks, doi
  54. (1992). Tectonic forcing of Cenozoic climate, doi
  55. (2006). Tectonic uplift and Eastern Africa aridification, doi
  56. (1979). Tertiary geology and palynology of the Quesnel area,
  57. (1999). The climate history of the high northern latitudes since the middle Miocene: Indications from sedimentological and clay mineralogical analyses (ODP leg 151, central Fram strait),
  58. (1997). The climate response to CO2 of the hadley centre coupled AOGCM with and without flux adjustment, doi
  59. (1992). The effects of orography on midlatitude Northern Hemisphere dry climates, doi
  60. (2009). The Glimmer community ice sheet model, doi
  61. (2008). The impact of Miocene atmospheric carbon dioxide fluctuations on climate and the evolution of terrestrial ecosystems, doi
  62. (1999). The impact of new land-surface physics on the GCM simulation and climate sensitivity, doi
  63. (2010). The impacts of Tibetan uplift on palaeoclimate proxies, doi
  64. (2000). The simulation of SST, sea ice extents and ocean heat transports in a version of the hadley centre coupled model without flux adjustments, doi
  65. (2008). Thresholds for Cenozoic bipolar glaciation, doi
  66. (2002). Timing of Colorado plateau uplift: Initial constraints from vesicular basaltderived paleoelevations, doi
  67. (1995). Uplift and denudation of the central Alaska Range: A case study in the use of fission track thermochronology to determine absolute uplift parameters, doi
  68. (1997). Uplift of the southern Washington Cascades in the past 17 million years,

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.