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Water mass evolution of the Greenland Sea since lateglacial times


M. M. Telesiński, R. F. Spielhagen, and H. A. Bauch

First Authors affiliation

GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel


Climate of the Past Discussion

10, 123-136, 2014

Special Issue


Four sediment cores from the central and northern Greenland Sea, a crucial area for the global ocean circulation system, were analyzed for planktic foraminiferal fauna, planktic and benthic stable oxygen and carbon isotopes as well as ice-rafted debris. During the Last Glacial Maximum, the Greenland Sea was dominated by cold and ice-bearing water masses. Meltwater discharges from the surrounding ice sheets affected the area during the deglaciation, influencing the water mass circulation. The Younger Dryas was the last major freshwater event in the area. The onset of the Holocene interglacial was marked by an improvement of the environmental conditions and rising sea surface temperatures (SST). Although the thermal maximum was not reached simultaneously across the basin, due to the reorganization of the specific water mass configuration, benthic isotope data indicate that the overturning circulation reached a maximum in the central Greenland Sea around 7 ka. After 6–5 ka the SST cooling and increasing sea-ice cover is noted alongside with decreasing insolation. Conditions during this Neoglacial cooling, however, changed after 3 ka due to further sea-ice expansion which limited the deep convection. As a result, a well stratified upper water column amplified the warming of the subsurface waters in the central Greenland Sea which were fed by increased inflow of Atlantic Water from the eastern Nordic Seas. Our data reconstruct a variety of time- and space-dependent oceanographic conditions. These were the result of a complex interplay between overruling factors such as changing insolation, the relative influence of Atlantic, Polar and meltwater, sea-ice processes and deep water convection.

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