Early Holocene palaeoceanographic and glaciological changes in southeast Greenland

Camilla S. Andresen, Longbin Sha, Marit-Solveig Seidenkrantz, Laurence M. Dyke, Hui Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Sediment core ER11-16 from Køge Bugt in Southeast Greenland is used to assess early Holocene palaeoceanographic changes and sediment rafting from icebergs calved from the large outlet glaciers in the area. Diatom analysis reconstructs variability in surface water temperature, salinity and sea-ice concentrations, and benthic foraminiferal assemblages is used to reconstruct subsurface ocean conditions. We report Holocene Thermal Maximum in Southeast Greenland during the early Holocene (at least since onset of the record 9100 cal yr BP) until around 4500 cal yr BP, which contrasts with a delay until the mid-Holocene of the Holocene Thermal Maximum in South and Southwest Greenland. The early Holocene warming in Southeast Greenland was caused by a combination of high solar insolation and a weakened subpolar gyre, both of which served to warm the Irminger Current waters subducting onto the shelf. At the same time, the surface temperature was relatively high and sea-ice cover in the polar surface waters of the East Greenland Current was relatively low. High levels of iceberg rafting occurred in Køge Bugt during the early Holocene, synchronously with these warm oceanic temperatures. This is attributed to an increase in iceberg production from the extensive, but retreating, Greenland Ice Sheet. The warm surface conditions were interrupted by a marked and short-lived increase in sea ice around 8200 years ago, providing the first evidence of this global cold episode in Southeast Greenland. After 4500 cal. yr BP, sea-ice cover increased with an expansion of the East Greenland Current, suppressing the inflow of warmer subsurface Irminger Current water to the Southeast Greenland shelf. We relate this oceanic shift to the decreased Northern Hemisphere summer solar insolation. Multi-centennial variability is observed in the grain size spectrum of iceberg rafted debris; a finding we interpret in the context of palaeoceanographic changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-514
Number of pages14
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022


  • Greenland Ice Sheet
  • iceberg rafting
  • Irminger Current
  • sea ice
  • Subpolar Gyre

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate


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