Non-linear response of glacier melting to Holocene warming in Svalbard recorded by sedimentary iron (oxyhydr)oxides

Type Article
Date 2023-04
Language English
Author(s) Jang Kwangchul1, Bayon Germain2, Vogt Christoph3, Forwick Matthias4, Ahn YoungkyuORCID1, Kim Jung-Hyun1, Nam Seung-Il1
Affiliation(s) 1 : Division of Glacial Environment Research, Korea Polar Research Institute, Incheon 21990, Republic of Korea
2 : Univ Brest, CNRS, Ifremer, Geo-Ocean, F-29280 Plouzané, France
3 : Crystallography & Geomaterials, FB05 Geosciences & MARUM, University of Bremen, 28359 Bremen, Germany
4 : Department of Geosciences, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, NO-9037 Tromsø, Norway
Source Earth And Planetary Science Letters (0012-821X) (Elsevier BV), 2023-04 , Vol. 607 , P. 118054 (12p.)
DOI 10.1016/j.epsl.2023.118054
Keyword(s) iron (oxyhydr)oxides, high Arctic environments, glacier retreat, tipping point, accelerated glacier melting, neodymium isotopes

The recent acceleration of ice-sheet loss with its direct impact on sea-level rise and coastal ecosystems is of major environmental and societal concern. However, the effect of atmospheric temperature increases on long-term glacier retreat remains poorly defined due to limited historical observations and uncertainties in numerical ice-sheet models, which challenges climate change adaptation planning. Here, we present a novel approach for investigating the time-transgressive response of Arctic glaciers since the last deglaciation, using glacially-derived Fe-(oxyhydr)oxide layers preserved in glacimarine sediments from a large fjord system in Svalbard. Glacial weathering releases large amounts of Fe, resulting in the deposition of Fe-(oxyhydr)oxide particulates in nearby marine sediments, which can serve as fossil indicators of past glacial melting events. Our results indicate that Svalbard glaciers retreated at a rate of 18 to 41 m/yr between 16.3 and 10.8 kyr BP, synchronously with the progressive rise in atmospheric and oceanic temperatures. From 10.8 kyr BP, glacier retreat markedly accelerated (up to ∼116 m/yr) when regional atmospheric temperatures exceeded modern values. Coupled with field observations, this finding directly supports a non-linear response of glacial melting to summer air temperature increases. In addition to suggesting that ice-sheet loss and sea-level rise may further accelerate in the near future, this study paves the way for the use of sedimentary Fe-(oxyhydr)oxide layers in subarctic environments for reconstructing past glacial dynamics.

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Publisher's official version 12 4 MB Open access
MMC 1. This file contains three figures (Supplementary Figs. S1 to S3) and three tables (Supplementary Tables S1, S2, and S10). 1 MB Open access
MMC 2. This file contains seven datasets (Supplementary Tables S3 to S9). 144 KB Open access
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Jang Kwangchul, Bayon Germain, Vogt Christoph, Forwick Matthias, Ahn Youngkyu, Kim Jung-Hyun, Nam Seung-Il (2023). Non-linear response of glacier melting to Holocene warming in Svalbard recorded by sedimentary iron (oxyhydr)oxides. Earth And Planetary Science Letters, 607, 118054 (12p.). Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :