A multi proxy sediment core record on the continental margin off western Svalbard, European Arctic, reflects large climatic and oceanographic oscillations at the Lateglacial-early Holocene transition. Based on studies of planktonic foraminifera, their stable oxygen and carbon isotopic composition and ice rafted debris, we have reconstructed the last 14 cal. ka BP. The period 14-13.5 cal. ka BP was characterized by highly unstable climatic conditions. Short-lived episodes of warming alternated with meltwater pulses and enhanced iceberg rafting. This period correlates to a regional warming of the northern North Atlantic. An overall decrease in meltwater took place during the deglaciation (14-10.8 cal. ka BP). The late Younger Dryas and subsequent transition into the early Holocene is characterized by a reduced flux of planktonic foraminifera and increased iceberg rafting. A major warming took place from 10.8 to 9.7 cal. ka BP, the influence of meltwater ceased and the flux of warm Atlantic Water increased. From 9.7 to 8.8 cal. ka BP, the western Svalbard margin surface waters were significantly warmer than today. This warm period, the thermal maximum, was followed by an abrupt cooling at 8.8. cal. ka BP, caused by an increased influence of Arctic Water from the Arctic Ocean. The results document that the European Arctic was very sensitive to climatic and oceanographic changes at the end of the last glacial and during the Holocene.
- Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate