Due to the lack of data, the extent, thickness and drift patterns of sea ice and icebergs in the glacial Arctic remains poorly constrained. Earlier studies are contradictory proposing either a cessation of the marine cryosphere or an ice drift system operating like present-day. Here we examine the marine Arctic cryosphere during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) using a high-resolution, regional ocean-sea ice model. Whereas modern sea ice in the western Arctic Basin can circulate in the Beaufort Gyre for decades, our model studies present an extreme shortcut of glacial ice drift. In more detail, our results show a clockwise sea-ice drift in the western Arctic Basin that merges into a direct trans-Arctic path towards Fram Strait. This is consistent with dated ice plow marks on the seafloor, which show the orientation of iceberg drift in this direction. Also ice-transported iron-oxide grains deposited in Fram Strait, can be matched by their chemical composition to similar grains found in potential sources from the entire circum-Arctic. The model results indicate that the pattern of Arctic sea-ice drift during the LGM is established by wind fields and seems to be a general feature of the glacial ocean. Our model results do not indicate a cessation in ice drift during the LGM.
AWI Organizations > Climate Sciences > Sea Ice Physics
AWI Organizations > Climate Sciences > Paleo-climate Dynamics
Helmholtz Research Programs > PACES I (2009-2013) > TOPIC 4: Synthesis: The Earth System from a Polar Perspective > WP 4.2: The Earth System on Long Time Scales