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Publication and Communication

Identification of contrasting seasonal sea ice conditions during the Younger Dryas

Patricia Cabedo-Sanz, Simon T Belt, Jochen Knies

First Author Affiliation
University of Plymouth, Plymouth, United Kingdom.

AGU Fall Meeting 2012
San Francisco, USA
3-7 December 2012


The presence of the sea ice diatom biomarker IP25 in Arctic marine sediments has been used in previous studies as a proxy for past spring sea ice occurrence and as an indicator of wider palaeoenvironmental conditions for different regions of the Arctic over various timescales [e.g. 1, 2].
The current study focuses on high-resolution palaeo sea ice reconstructions for northern Norway during the last ca. 15 cal. kyr BP. Within this study, particular emphasis has been placed on the identification of the sea ice conditions during the Younger Dryas and the application of different biomarker-based proxies to both identify and quantify seasonal sea ice conditions. Firstly, the appearance of the specific sea ice diatom proxy IP25 at ca. 12.9 cal. kyr BP in a marine sediment core (JM99-1200) obtained from Andfjorden has provided an unambiguous but qualitative measure of seasonal sea ice and thus the onset of the Younger Dryas stadial. The near continuous occurrence of IP25 for the next ca. 1400 yr demonstrates seasonal sea ice during this interval, although variable abundances suggest that the recurrent conditions in the early-mid Younger Dryas (ca. 12.9 – 11.9 cal. kyr BP) changed significantly from stable to highly variable sea ice conditions at ca. 11.9 cal. kyr BP and this instability in sea ice prevailed for the subsequent ca. 400 yr. At ca. 11.5 cal. kyr BP, IP25 disappeared from the record indicating ice-free conditions that signified the beginning of the Holocene. Similarly, a high resolution record from the Kveithola Through, western Barents Sea, showed clearly higher IP25 concentrations during the Younger Dryas stadial compared to the Holocene. For both marine records, the IP25 concentrations were also combined with those of the open water phytoplankton biomarker brassicasterol to generate PBIP25 data from which more quantitative measurements of sea ice were determined. The contrasting seasonal sea ice conditions during the Younger Dryas were further verified through a comparison of the concentrations of IP25 with those of another highly branched isoprenoid (HBI) alkene that is di-unsaturated and believed to also be produced by sea ice diatoms. The ratio of the HBI diene to IP25, termed DIP25, is believed to provide a useful indicator of stability or variability in sea ice conditions and complements the outcomes from the IP25 and PBIP25 index data.

1. Belt, S.T., Vare, L.L., Massé, G., Manners, H.R., Price, J.C., MacLachlan, S.E., Andrews, J.T. , Schmidt, S., 2010. Striking similarities in temporal changes to spring sea ice occurrence across the central Canadian Arctic Archipelago over the last 7000 years. Quaternary Science Reviews 29, 3489-3504.
2. Müller, J., Massé, G., Stein, R., Belt, S.T., 2009. Variability of sea-ice conditions in the Fram Strait over the past 30,000 years. Nature Geoscience 2, 772-776.

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