Paleoclimatology and paleo-oceanography of the Norwegian and Greenland seas: glacial-interglacial contrasts


  • Thomas B. Kellogg

    1. CLIMAP, Institute for Quaternary Studies and Department of Geological Sciences, University of Maine at Orono, Orono, Maine 04469, U.S.A.; 10th May, 1979
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Synoptically mapped faunal abundance and faunal composition data, derived from a suite of 24 Norwegian Sea cores, were used to derive sea-surface temperatures for the last glacial maximum (18,000 B.P.), the last interglacial (120,000 B.P.), and isotope stage 5a (82,000 B.P.). Surface circulation and ice cover reconstructions for these three times, deduced from the sea-surface temperatures, suggest the following conclusions: (1) During glacial periods, Norwegian Sea surface circulation formed a single, sluggish, counterclockwise gyre that was caused by wind drag on the ubiquitous sea ice cover; (2) the last interglacial was characterized by a circulation pattern similar to that of today except that the two counterclockwise gyres were displaced toward the east and were more vigorous than they are today. This circulation pattern forced the Norwegian Current into a position close to the coast of Norway and permitted formation of a strong east-west temperature gradient close to the Scandinavian landmass; (3) interglacial periods prior to 120,000 B.P. had similar climatic conditions to the 82,000 B.P. level and were characterized by a weak two-gyre circulation pattern. The southern gyre, driven by wind stress in summer months, was ice covered in winters. The northern gyre had little open water even in summers and was primarily formed by wind drag on sea ice. Atmospheric modifications resulting from these circulation patterns and sea ice conditions produced varying climatic conditions in Scandinavia during interglacials prior to the Holocene. The climate was probably warmer and moister during the last interglacial (Eemian) than it is today. Other interglacials during the last 450,000 years, but prior to the Eemian, were probably colder and drier as the Norwegian Sea was not an important source of heat and moisture.