The role of Arctic Ocean freshwater during the past 200 ky.

Spielhagen, Robert F. and Bauch, Henning A. (2015) The role of Arctic Ocean freshwater during the past 200 ky. Arktos, 1 (Article 18). DOI 10.1007/s41063-015-0013-9.

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As part of the hydrologic cycle, the freshwater system plays a pivotal role for the Arctic Ocean. It maintains the strong stratification in the upper waters and fosters the formation of sea ice on the circum-Arctic shelves from where the ice is being exported toward Fram Strait and into the Nordic Seas. Recent projections of climate change under the greenhouse effect predict severe changes for the hydrologic cycle in the Arctic. This manuscript reviews the current knowledge of past changes in freshwater fluxes to and from the Arctic Ocean and their possible impact on ocean circulation and climate outside the Arctic during the past 200,000 years. It becomes evident that abrupt and large-volume discharges into the Arctic Ocean during times of major climate transitions were capable of disturbing the global ocean circulation and triggering further climate change, e.g., at the onset of the Younger Dryas cold event. During sea-level rise in the Holocene, a connection between the increasing areas available for sea ice formation, the position of the ice margin in the ice export area (the Fram Strait) and the deepwater convection in the Greenland Sea is suggested. Further work is needed to investigate the effects of other catastrophic freshwater discharges from previously ice-dammed lakes in northern Eurasia during the Weichselian and Saalian glaciations. Events like the 8.2 ka and the Younger Dryas, which were associated with flooding and routing of glacial meltwaters and had a significant effect on climate, could serve as a template to better validate the impact of similar occurrences in the past. To date, the actual influence of the earlier events on ocean circulation and climate remains elusive.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Arctic Ocean, Freshwater, Climate, Quaternary, Sea ice
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-P-OZ Paleo-Oceanography
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
Publisher: Springer
Projects: Transdrift
Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2015 12:17
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2019 09:26

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