Modern seasonal variability and deglacial/Holocene change of central Arctic Ocean sea-ice cover: New insights from biomarker proxy records

Kirsten.Fahl [ at ]


For the reconstruction of sea-ice variability, a biomarker approach which is based on (1) the determination of sea-ice diatom-specific highly-branched isoprenoid (IP25) and (2) the coupling of phytoplankton biomarkers and IP25 has been used. For the first time, such a data set was obtained from an array of two sediment traps deployed at the southern Lomonosov Ridge in the central Arctic Ocean at water depth of 150m and 1550m and recording the seasonal variability of sea ice cover in 1995/1996. These data indicate a predominantly permanent sea ice cover at the trap location between November 1995 and June 1996, an ice-edge situation with increased phytoplankton productivity and sea-ice algae input in July/August 1996, and the start of new-ice formation in late September. The record of modern sea-ice variability is then used to better interpret data from sediment core PS2458-4 recovered at the Laptev Sea continental slope close to the interception with Lomonosov Ridge and recording the post-glacial to Holocene change in sea-ice cover. Based on IP25 and phytoplankton biomarker data from Core PS2458-4, minimum sea-ice cover was reconstructed for theBølling/Allerød warm interval between about 14.5 and 13 calendar kyr BP, followed by a rapid and distinct increase in sea-ice cover at about 12.8 calendar kyr BP. This sea-ice event was directly preceded by a dramatic freshwater event and a collapse of phytoplankton productivity, having started about 100 years earlier. These data are the first direct evidence that enhanced fresh water flux caused enhanced sea-ice formation in the Arctic at the beginning of the Younger Dryas. In combination with a contemporaneous, abrupt and very prominent freshwater/meltwaterpulse in the YermakPlateau/ Fram Strait area these data may furthermore support the hypothesis that strongly enhanced freshwater (and ice) export from the Arctic into the North Atlantic could have played an important trigger role for the onset of theYoungerDryas cold reversal. During the Early Holocene, sea-ice cover steadily increased again (ice-edge situation), reaching modern sea-ice conditions (more or less permanent sea-ice cover) probably at about 7–8 calendar kyr BP.

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DOI 10.1016/j.epsl.2012.07.009

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Fahl, K. and Stein, R. (2012): Modern seasonal variability and deglacial/Holocene change of central Arctic Ocean sea-ice cover: New insights from biomarker proxy records , Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 351-35 , pp. 123-133 . doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2012.07.009

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