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Christof Pearce

Holocene sea-ice dynamics in Petermann Fjord in relation to ice tongue stability and Nares Strait ice arch formation

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The Petermann 2015 expedition to Petermann Fjord and adjacent Hall Basin recovered a transect of cores, extending from Nares Strait to underneath the 48 km long ice tongue of Petermann glacier, offering a unique opportunity to study ice-ocean-sea ice interactions at the interface of these realms. First results suggest that no ice tongue existed in Petermann Fjord for large parts of the Holocene, raising the question of the role of the ocean and the marine cryosphere in the collapse and re-establishment of the ice tongue. Here we use a multi-proxy approach (sea-ice-related biomarkers, total organic carbon and its carbon isotopic composition, and benthic and planktonic foraminiferal abundances) to explore Holocene sea ice dynamics at OD1507-03TC-41GC-03PC in outer Petermann Fjord. Our results are in line with a tight coupling of the marine and terrestrial cryosphere in this region and, in connection with other regional sea ice reconstructions, give insights into the Holocene evolution of ice arches and associated landfast ice in Nares Strait. The late stages of the regional Holocene Thermal Maximum (6900-5500 cal yr BP) were marked by reduced seasonal sea ice concentrations in Nares Strait and the lack of ice arch formation. This was followed by a transitional period towards Neoglacial cooling from 5500-3500 cal yr BP, where a southern ice arch might have formed, but an early seasonal breakup and late formation likely caused a prolonged open water season and enhanced pelagic productivity in Nares Strait. Between 3500 and 1400 cal yr BP, regional records suggest the formation of a stable northern ice arch only, with a short period from 2500-2100 cal yr BP where a southern ice arch might have formed intermittently in response to atmospheric cooling spikes. A stable southern ice arch, or even double arching, is also inferred for the period after 1400 cal yr BP. Thus, both the inception of a small Petermann ice tongue at ĝ1/4 2200 cal yr BP and its rapid expansion at ĝ1/4 600 cal yr BP are preceded by a transition towards a southern ice arch regime with landfast ice formation in Nares Strait, suggesting a stabilizing effect of landfast sea ice on Petermann Glacier.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCryosphere
Volume15
Issue9
Pages (from-to)4357-4380
Number of pages24
ISSN1994-0416
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

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