Deglacial impact of the Scandinavian Ice Sheet on the North Atlantic climate system

Time: May 13 2016, 13h00
Place: De Geer-salen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm

Supervisor: Barbara Wohlfarth
Co-supervisor: Rienk Smittenberg and Dan Hammarlund

Opponent: Raimund Muscheler (Lund University)

Examining committee: 
Wim Z. Hoek (Utrecht University)
Christine S. Lane (University of Manchester)
Erin McClymont (Durham University)

Reserve: Richard Gyllencreutz (Stockholm University).


The long warming transition from the Last Ice Age into the present Interglacial period, the last deglaciation, holds the key to our understanding of future abrupt climate change. In the last decades, a great effort has been put into deciphering the linkage between freshwater fluxes from melting ice sheets and rapid shifts in global ocean-atmospheric circulation that characterized this puzzling climate period. In particular, the regional expressions of climate change in response to freshwater forcing are still largely unresolved.
This projects aims at evaluating the environmental, hydro-climatic and oceanographic response in the Eastern North Atlantic domain to freshwater fluxes from the Scandinavian Ice Sheet during the last deglaciation (~19,000-11,000 years ago). The results presented in this thesis involve an overview of the regional representations of climate change across rapid climatic transitions and provide the groundwork to better understand spatial and temporal propagations of past atmospheric and ocean perturbations.
Specifically, this thesis comprises i) a comparison of pollenstratigraphic records from densely 14C dated lake sediment sequences, which provides insight into the regional sensitivity of North European vegetation to freshwater forcing in the Nordic Seas around the onset of the Younger Dryas stadial (~12,900 years ago); ii) a reconstruction of North European hydro-climate, which, together with transient climate simulations, shed light on the mechanisms and regionality of climate shortly prior to the transition into the Younger Dryas stadial; iii) studies of a ~1250-year long glacial varve chronology, which provides an accurate timing for the sudden drainage of proglacial freshwater stored in the former ice-dammed Baltic Ice Lake into the North Atlantic Ocean; iv) a 5000-year long terrestrial-marine reconstruction of Eastern North Atlantic hydro-climate and oceanographic changes that clarifies the hitherto elusive relationship between freshwater forcing and the transient behaviour of the North Atlantic overturning circulation system. The results presented in this thesis provide new important temporal constraints on the events that punctuated the last deglaciation in Northern Europe, and give a clearer understanding of the ocean – atmosphere – ice-sheet feedbacks that were at work in the North Atlantic. This increases our understanding of how the Earth climate system functions in more extreme situations.

Keywords: climate, North Atlantic, last deglaciation, isotope geochemistry, chronology, climate modeling.

Department of Geological Sciences
Svante Arrhenius väg 8, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden | Phone: +46 (0)8 16 20 00 | Web administrator ines.jakobsson[at]
In case of emergency call (08) 16 22 16 or (08) 16 42 00