Palaeoclimate reconstructions from Arctic and Nordic Shelf seas: development and application of multiple proxies

Moossen, Heiko Michael (2012) Palaeoclimate reconstructions from Arctic and Nordic Shelf seas: development and application of multiple proxies. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Although Holocene climate changes are significantly smaller in amplitude than the Pleistocene Glacial-Interglacial cycles (Dansgaard et al., 1993), they have affected human civilisations over at least the last 4000 years (Buntgen et al., 2011; Lamb, 1995; Mayewski & White, 2002). The study of Holocene climate variations is increasingly important to disentangle climate change caused by anthropogenic influences from natural climate change. Furthermore, Holocene climate change provides the geological context in which to place contemporary climatic observations.

Studying sedimentary records stemming from marine biotopes located close to land, such as fjords, affords the opportunity to study marine and terrestrial paleo-climatic variability, and therein linking the two together. Additionally, fjordic environments typically have a higher sediment accumulation rate than deeper ocean sites, facilitating resolution of rapid climate change events. The fjords of Northwest Iceland are ideal for studying Holocene climate change as they receive warm water from the Irminger current, an end member of the Atlantic current, but are also influenced by the east Greenland current, which brings cold polar waters to the region (Jennings et al., 2011). Furthermore, the coring site is located beneath one of the dipoles of the North Atlantic Oscillation (Hurrell, 1995). Therefore, oceanic and atmospheric Holocene variability should be recorded in the sediments studied.

Alkenones, terrestrial leaf wax n-alkanes, branched and archaeal glycerol tetraethers and C/N ratios from a sediment core from the mouth of the Ísafjarðardjúp fjord (MD99-2266; location: 66° 13' 77'' N, 23° 15' 93'' W; 106 m water depth) were analysed. These terrestrial and marine biomarkers were used to produce biomarker based palaeoclimatic records with the highest resolution to date (one sample every ~ 32 years), covering the Holocene from ~ 10,700 calibrated years before present (cal. a BP) to ~ 300 cal. a BP.

The terrestrial and marine organic carbon contributions to the sediment and the palaeoproductivity of the fjord vary throughout the Holocene forced by changing climate. While the amount of terrestrial organic carbon is primarily controlled by the development of vegetation as glaciers retreat, the primary productivity is controlled by varying influxes of nutrient rich water masses.

By combining the reconstructed sea surface temperature, air temperature and precipitation records, climatic changes that affect the terrestrial and marine realm are uncovered. Two periods in the Holocene where major climatic shifts in the North Atlantic region occur, one at ~ 7700 cal. a BP, and one at ~ 2900 cal. a BP, are observed. Meltwater events and decreasing summer insolation drive climatic change throughout the early Holocene. The middle Holocene climate, from 7700 to 2900 cal. a BP is driven by decreasing summer insolation, and meridional overturning circulation. The climate variability is decoupled from insolation change in the late Holocene, and the sea surface temperature and air temperature, and precipitation changes are driven by NAO-type fluctuations and variations in the heat transport via the meridional overturning circulation.

The TEX86 palaeo-SST thermometer does not work in Ísafjarðardjúp fjord. The TEX86-SSTs are adversely affected by GDGTs associated with archaea mediating anaerobic oxidation of methane, as indicated by the methane index. Methane indices as low as 0.1 indicate anaerobic oxidation of methane at the site studied.

The palaeo-sea-ice proxy IP25 was not detected in the sediments of MD99-2266 even though the northwest Icelandic coast has been affected by drift ice, particularly in the late Holocene. Therefore, the use of carbon isotopic signatures from sedimentary fatty acids, derived from ice and pelagic algae was investigated as a sea-ice proxy. Ice algae, ice core, water column particulate organic matter and sediment samples were collected on the ICE CHASER 2010 research cruise. The carbon isotopic signature of the ice algal C16 fatty acid is significantly heavier than that of the pelagic derived organic matter. Furthermore, the carbon isotopic signature of the fatty acid in the samples from the sediment core located at the ice edge is isotopically heavier, compared to the fatty acid isotopic signature from the sediment core from a pelagic site. It appears that the isotopic signature of algal fatty acids can be used to elucidate sea-ice cover, however, more research is needed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Biomarker, GDGT, n-alkane, alkenone, fatty acid, palaeoclimate reconstrcution, Iceland
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Bendle, Dr. James
Date of Award: 2012
Depositing User: Mr Heiko Moossen
Unique ID: glathesis:2012-3491
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2012
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 14:07

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