News & Events

Noon seminar - The last Svalbard/Barents Sea Ice Sheet: From ice margin reconstructions to dynamics

Monday, February 14, 2011, 12:00PM - 1:00PM


Jon Landvik

Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Dept. of Plant and Environmental Sciences


ARC 620

For several decades the history of the last Svalbard/Barents Sea Ice Sheet has been the subject to large scientific controversies. These differences settled in the late 1990’s with a general acceptance of a Barents Sea ice sheet, which was confluent with the Fennoscandian Ice Sheet to the south, extending to the continental shelf break in the west and north, but only inundated the northwestern most part of Russia, and left the Kara Sea ice free. This was a two-dimensional model of ice sheet extent.

The focus on the Barents ice sheet waned for a while. However, during the last decade, we have added new methods, like exposure age dating and high-resolution sea floor mapping to our toolbox, as well as an improved glaciological understanding of ice sheet behavior. An important area of research has been the interplay between the ice sheets and the adjacent ocean. Thus, new research questions have been asked and “old” areas of ice sheet research have been revisited.

New research shows that the dynamics of the ice sheet was much more dynamic than previously assumed. Fjords and troughs represented conduits for high-flux ice streams feeding the ocean, whereas inter-fjord areas experienced a limited ice flux leaving a contrasting sedimentary record. However, both areas are dominated by the geological signatures left during the last decay of the ice sheet. Thus, the complex behavior of past ice sheets in both space and time challenges our established understanding past ice sheet/ocean interaction.