Icebergs in the Nordic Seas Throughout the Late Pliocene

The Arctic cryosphere is changing and making a significant contribution to sea level rise. The Late Pliocene had similar CO2 levels to the present and a warming comparable to model predictions for the end of this century. However, the state of the Arctic cryosphere during the Pliocene remains poorly constrained. For the first time we combine outputs from a climate model with a thermodynamic iceberg model to simulate likely source regions for ice-rafted debris (IRD) found in the Nordic Seas from Marine Isotope Stage M2 to the mid-Piacenzian Warm Period and what this implies about the nature of the Arctic cryosphere at this time. We compare the fraction of melt given by the model scenarios with IRD data from four Ocean Drilling Program sites in the Nordic Seas. Sites 911A, 909C, and 907A show a persistent occurrence of IRD that model results suggest is consistent with permanent ice on Svalbard. Our results indicate that icebergs sourced from the east coast of Greenland do not reach the Nordic Seas sites during the warm Late Pliocene but instead travel south into the North Atlantic. In conclusion, we suggest a continuous occurrence of marine-terminating glaciers on Svalbard and on East Greenland (due to the elevation of the East Greenland Mountains during the Late Pliocene). The study has highlighted the usefulness of coupled climate model-iceberg trajectory modeling for understanding ice sheet behavior when proximal geological records for Pliocene ice presence or absence are absent or are inconclusive.

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Smith Y. M., Hill D. J., Dolan A. M., Haywood A. M., Dowsett H. J., Risebrobakken B. (2018). Icebergs in the Nordic Seas Throughout the Late Pliocene. Paleoceanography And Paleoclimatology. 33 (3). 318-335.,

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