New map revises extent of last ice sheet over Barents and Kara seas



The last ice sheet over the Barents and Kara Seas, about 18,000 years ago, was much smaller than previously thought, according to a new map (Figure 1) constructed through the interdisciplinary program Quaternary Environments of the Eurasian North (QUEEN), sponsored by the European Science Foundation. The map also has implications for paleoglaciological as well as paleoclimatic modeling and indeed for our understanding of the paleoenvironments of the Arctic Ocean and Eurasian continent far beyond the limits of the ice sheet.

Even though many details remain to be worked out, we now confidently conclude that the last glacial maximum of the Eurasian ice sheet was restricted to the Barents Sea and Novaya Zemlya, possibly with an outlet reaching the very coast of the Taymyr Peninsula (Figure 1).This reconstruction is in strong contrast to Grosswald's [1998] map of a contiguous ice sheet across entire northern Eurasia, from Svalbard to the Bering Sea, and also Peltier's [1994] thick ice over northern Russia.