Holocene sea-ice and ice-sheet variability on the Northeast Greenland continental shelf
|Authors:||Syring, Nicole||Supervisor:||Stein, Ruediger||1. Expert:||Stein, Ruediger||2. Expert:||Schneider, Prof. Dr. Ralph||Abstract:||
When will all the Arctic sea ice in summer be gone? The rapid decline in average sea-ice extent by more than one-third during the last 3 to 4 decades leaves a sad note in terms of climate model projections. Dramatic Arctic sea-ice loss generally appears faster than climate models have forecasted. Nowadays, rapidly changing environmental conditions in the Fram Strait, the passage between Greenland and Spitsbergen, are of particular concern. Sea-ice loss here is rising and the Northeast Greenland Ice Sheet is thinning. During past decades, the amount of drift ice export has increased through Fram Strait, contributing with a significant number to the freshwater budget of the Nordic seas and global ocean circulation.
Here our analysis of the Northeast Greenland continental shelf located in the western Fram Strait, uniquely records past climate changes in a highly versatile environmental system of the Arctic Ocean. Multivariate analysis of molecular highly branched isoprenoids (HBIs), specific sterols, foraminifers and organic/inorganic bulk parameters were carried out on selected downcore records and surface samples from the Northeast Greenland continental shelf. These proxies allow reconstructions of past changes in sea-ice cover, primary production, terrigenous input as well as ice-sheet extent.
The first manuscript provides insights into past sea-ice variability on the outer Northeast Greenland continental shelf and the seasonal formation of the Northeast Water Polynya since the onset of the Holocene to present-day. This outer shelf regime is highly influenced by drift ice and cold water from the central Arctic Ocean and annually occurring local sea-ice formation. Interactive sea-ice and ocean dynamics regulate the regional climate and biology on the marginal shelf. Continuous seasonal sea-ice presence throughout the Holocene within three prominent stages mark relatively abrupt shifts at ~9 ka and ~1 ka. A reduced to variable sea-ice cover with an overall high primary productivity most likely driven by maximum solar insolation was observed during the early Holocene. Sea-ice melt and the intensified inflow of warmer recirculating Atlantic Water favored intensive planktic blooms and fluxes of both marine and terrigenous organic matter. Environmental conditions changed towards seasonal sea-ice conditions and a stronger drift ice signal rather than local one, evidenced by terrigenous biomarkers and IRD content during the mid Holocene. Finally, a stable seasonal sea-ice margin within a fully developed polynya environment occurred during the late Holocene and highlights the last 1 ka.
To understand ocean – sea ice – ice sheet interactions, a second study focuses on the inner Northeast Greenland continental shelf where marine terminating outlet glaciers of the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream are bounded by a near permanent lastfast ice barrier named Norske Øer. A downcore record that fronts the 79°Glacier embayment and includes sedimentological, micropaleontological and organic-geochemical data sets, provides fundamental insights into the detailed initial late Weichselian deglacial to Holocene sea-ice and ice sheet history. In contrast to the outer shelf, drift ice is rather trivial while the local ice barrier plays a fundamental role by preventing glaciers from calving due to the buttressing effect. A reconstruction of the waxing/waning 79°Glacier and changes in the Norske Øer ice barrier during this specific interval was generated, showing the timing of 79°Glacier retreat and disintegration, accompanied by the intensification in sea-ice conditions. Distinct lithofacies types represent the transition from deglacial conditions with a grounded 79°Glacier through a proximal to a distal glaciomarine environment displaying the onset of the 79°Glacier retreat and total disintegration of the ice shelf at 7.9 ka. Our biomarker and foraminiferal proxy records reflect local sea-ice conditions that changed from a stable sea-ice margin and high productivity system during the early Holocene Thermal Maximum (~10.6 to 9.6 ka) to prolonged seasonal sea-ice conditions in the late early Holocene (9.6 to 7.9 ka) and near perennial sea-ice conditions in the mid to late Holocene (7.9 ka to present). These changes are strongly triggered by Atlantic Water inflow decreasing from early to late Holocene times. The intrusion of warmer Atlantic Water towards the Northeast Greenland continental shelf and changes in the solar insolation supposed to be the main climate drivers.
A third study addresses ways of possible diagenetic alteration on organic bulk parameters and biomarkers in recent and sub-recent samples from the Northeast Greenland continental shelf in comparison with other Arctic records. Multicorer records may be altered by near-surface degradation processes, suggested from the extremely high concentration values in the surface sediments sharply decreasing to minimum values within the uppermost about ~5 cm. Downcore records, however, predominately still reflect a primary signal.
In summary, our high-resolution records fill the gap of past climate conditions from the western Fram Strait and show detailed changes sea-ice behavior, primary productivity, terrigenous supply and ice-sheet dynamics during the past ~10.2 ka on the Northeast Greenland continental shelf. Environmental conditions and climate reacted partly abrupt during specific time intervals e.g. early Holocene, but does not clearly reflect a Neoglacial Cooling trend in contrast to the eastern Fram Strait during the mid to late Holocene. Future studies are needed to understand how closely ice shelves and sea ice interact with each other, especially in this highly versatile area where ice sheet loss of 79°Glacier could make a difference in 1 m sea level. Another important aspect of future studies is to discuss and quantify biomarker degradation that may have influenced down-core biomarker variability. Finally, these paleo records from Greenland and Spitsbergen would complete the overall picture in sea-ice history of the Fram Strait and its driving mechanisms and help to understand changes in their critical key climate components.
|Keywords:||Sea ice; Biomarker; Holocene; Northeast Greenland||Issue Date:||1-Oct-2020||DOI:||10.26092/elib/334||URN:||urn:nbn:de:gbv:46-elib45373||Institution:||Universität Bremen||Faculty:||FB05 Geowissenschaften|
|Appears in Collections:||Dissertationen|
checked on Dec 5, 2020
checked on Dec 5, 2020
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