Quantitative reconstruction of Holocene sea ice and sea surface temperature off West Greenland from the first regional diatom data set

D.W. Krawczyk, A. Witkowski, M. Moros, J.M. Lloyd, J.L. Høyer, A. Miettinen, A. Kuijpers

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33 Citations (Scopus)


Holocene oceanographic conditions in Disko Bay, West Greenland, were reconstructed from high-resolution diatom records derived from two marine sediment cores. A modern data set composed of 35 dated surface sediment samples collected along the West Greenland coast accompanied by remote sensing data was used to develop a diatom transfer function to reconstruct April sea ice concentration (SIC) supported by July sea surface temperature (SST) in the area. Our quantitative reconstruction shows that oceanographic changes recorded throughout the last ~11,000 years reflect seasonal interplay between spring (April SIC) and summer (July SST) conditions. Our records show clear correlation with climate patterns identified from ice core data from GISP2 and Agassiz-Renland for the early to middle Holocene. The early Holocene deglaciation of western Greenland Ice Sheet was characterized in Disko Bay by initial strong centennial-scale fluctuations in April SIC with amplitude of over 40%, followed by high April SIC and July SST. These conditions correspond to a general warming of the climate in the Northern Hemisphere. A decrease in April SIC and July SST was recorded during the Holocene Thermal Optimum reflecting more stable spring-summer conditions in Disko Bay. During the late Holocene, high April SIC characterized the Medieval Climate Anomaly, while high July SST prevailed during the Little Ice Age, supporting previously identified antiphase relationship between surface waters in West Greenland and climate in NW Europe. This antiphase pattern might reflect seasonal variations in regional oceanographic conditions and large-scale fluctuations within the North Atlantic Oscillation and Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-40
Number of pages23
JournalPaleoceanography and Paleoclimatology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • diatoms
  • Holocene
  • Little Ice Age
  • sea ice concentrations
  • sea surface temperature
  • transfer function

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate


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