Articles | Volume 10, issue 1
Research article
23 Jan 2014
Research article |  | 23 Jan 2014

Holocene sub-centennial evolution of Atlantic water inflow and sea ice distribution in the western Barents Sea

S. M. P. Berben, K. Husum, P. Cabedo-Sanz, and S. T. Belt

Abstract. A marine sediment core (JM09-KA11-GC) from the Kveithola Trough at the western Barents Sea margin has been investigated in order to reconstruct sub-surface temperatures and sea ice distribution at a sub-centennial resolution throughout the Holocene. The relationship between past variability of Atlantic water inflow and sea ice distribution has been established by measurement of planktic foraminifera, stable isotopes and biomarkers from sea ice diatoms and phytoplankton.

Throughout the early Holocene (11 900–7300 cal yr BP), the foraminiferal fauna is dominated by the polar species Neogloboquadrina pachyderma (sinistral) and the biomarkers show an influence of seasonal sea ice. Between 10 900 and 10 700 cal yr BP, a clear cooling is shown both by fauna and stable isotope data corresponding to the so-called Preboreal Oscillation. After 7300 cal yr BP, the sub-polar Turborotalita quinqueloba becomes the most frequent species, reflecting a stable Atlantic water inflow. Sub-surface temperatures reach 6 °C and biomarker data indicate mainly ice-free conditions. During the last 1100 cal yr BP, biomarker abundances and distributions show the reappearance of low-frequency seasonal sea ice and the planktic fauna show a reduced salinity in the sub-surface water. No apparent temperature decrease is observed during this interval, but the rapidly fluctuating fauna and biomarker distributions indicate more unstable conditions.