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Glacial history of the Åsgardfonna Ice Cap, NE Spitsbergen, since the last glaciation

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  • Lis Allaart, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, University Centre in Svalbard
  • ,
  • Anders Schomacker, UiT The Arctic University of Norway
  • ,
  • Nicolaj K. Larsen
  • Egon Nørmark
  • Tom Arne Rydningen, UiT The Arctic University of Norway
  • ,
  • Wesley R. Farnsworth, University of Iceland
  • ,
  • Michael Retelle, University Centre in Svalbard, Bates College
  • ,
  • Skafti Brynjólfsson, Icelandic Institute of Natural History
  • ,
  • Matthias Forwick, UiT The Arctic University of Norway
  • ,
  • Sofia E. Kjellman, UiT The Arctic University of Norway

The response of glaciers and ice caps to past climate change provides important insight into how they will react to ongoing and future global warming. In Svalbard, the Holocene glacial history has been studied for many cirque and valley glaciers. However, little is known about how the larger ice caps in Svalbard responded to Late Glacial and Holocene climate changes. Here we use lake sediment cores and geophysical data from Femmilsjøen, one of Svalbard's largest lakes, to reconstruct the glacial history of the Åsgardfonna Ice Cap since the last deglaciation. We find that Femmilsjøen potentially deglaciated prior to 16.1 ± 0.3 cal ka BP and became isolated from the marine environment between 11.7 ± 0.3 to 11.3 ± 0.2 cal ka BP. Glacial meltwater runoff was absent between 10.1 ± 0.4 and 3.2 ± 0.2 cal ka BP, indicating that Åsgardfonna was greatly reduced or disappeared in the Early and Middle Holocene. Deposition of glacial-meltwater sediments re-commenced in Femmilsjøen at c. 3.2 ± 0.2 cal ka BP, indicating glacier re-growth in the Femmilsjøen catchment and the onset of the Neoglacial. The glacier(s) in the Femmilsjøen catchment area reached sizes no smaller than their modern extents already at c. 2.1 ± 0.7 cal ka BP. Our results suggest that larger Svalbard ice caps such as Åsgardfonna are very sensitive to climate changes and probably melted completely during the Holocene Thermal Maximum. Such information can be used as important constraints in future ice-cap simulations.

TidsskriftQuaternary Science Reviews
Antal sider18
StatusUdgivet - jan. 2021

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