This review paper focusses on reconstructions of the long- and short-term history of past Arctic Ocean sea-ice cover. Based on commonly used sedimentological, geochemical and micropaleontological proxies (ice-rafted debris (IRD), mineralogical composition of terrigenous sediment frac¬tion, and abundances of specific diatoms and foraminifers), three examples of reconstructions of glacial history, sea-ice cover and surface-water character¬istics are presented and discussed: (1) the onset Arctic Ocean sea-ice cover near 47 Ma and its long-term variability through Cenozoic times; (2) the Quaternary glacial/interglacial variability in Arctic Ocean ice-rafting and its relationship to sea-ice and ice-sheet history; and (3) Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), Deglacial to Holocene changes in Arctic Ocean sea-ice cover and ice-sheet decay. In the second part of this paper we concentrate on Arctic Ocean sea-ice reconstructions, using a recently developed biomarker approach that is based on the determination of sea-ice diatom-specific highly-branched isoprenoids with 25 carbon atoms (IP25; BELT et al. 2007) and IP25 in combination with phytoplankton biomarkers (PIP25; MÜLLER et al. 2009, 2011). The diene/ IP25 ratio might give additional information about sea-surface temperature (SST) in the low temperature Arctic environment (FAHL & STEIN 2012). The high potential of these novel biomarker proxies to improve reconstructions of paleo-sea-ice cover and its variability through time is demonstrated in three examples: (a) the sea-ice variability in Fram Strait over the last 30 ka, (b) the deglacial/Holocene variability of central Arctic sea-ice cover with special emphasis on the Younger Dryas Cooling Event, and (c) a comparison of historical sea-ice observations off northern Iceland over the last millennium and a corresponding high-resolution IP25 record. In a pilot study carried out in a sediment core from the Barents Sea conti-nental slope we were able to prove for the first time that IP25 is even pre-served in sediments as old as 130 to 150 ka (MIS 6), i.e., IP25 can be used for reconstruction of sea-ice variability during older glacial/interglacial intervals (MIS 6/MIS 5). In order to establish the IP25 approach as a key proxy for reconstruction of past Arctic Ocean sea-ice conditions, more basic information about produc-tion, degradation and preservation/burial of the IP25 signal is still needed. Furthermore, the hypothesis that the diene/IP25 ratio might be used as reliable proxy for SST reconstructions in the low temperature Arctic environments has to be verified by a ground-truth study including the IP25 and diene data as well as independent SST proxies like alkenone-derived SST. All these data should be obtained in future investigations of sea-ice, water column, and sediment-trap samples as well as surface sediments and sediment cores with large spatial coverage from different environments of the entire Arctic Ocean.
Helmholtz Research Programs > PACES I (2009-2013) > TOPIC 3: Lessons from the Past > WP 3.2: Tectonic, Climate and Biosphere Development from Greenhouse to Icehouse