DOI: 10.1029/2022pa004578 ISSN:

Biomarker records of environmental shifts on the Labrador Shelf during the Holocene

Henriette Kolling, Ralph Schneider, Felix Gross, Christian Hamann, Markus Kienast, Stephanie Kienast, Kristin Doering, Kirsten Fahl, Ruediger Stein
  • Paleontology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Oceanography


The ultimate demise of the Laurentide Ice Sheet and the preceding and succeeding oceanographic changes along the western Labrador Sea offer insights critically important to improve climate predictions of expected future climate warming and further melting of the Greenland ice cap. However, while the final disappearance of the Laurentide Ice Sheet during the Holocene is rather well constrained, the response of sea ice during the resulting meltwater events is not fully understood. Here, we present reconstructions of palaeoceanographic changes over the past 9.3 kyr BP on the northwestern Labrador Shelf, with a special focus on the interaction between the final meltwater event around 8.2 kyr BP and sea ice and phytoplankton productivity (e.g., IP25, HBI III (Z), brassicasterol, dinosterol, biogenic opal, TOC). Our records indicate low sea‐ice cover and high phytoplankton productivity on the Labrador Shelf prior to 8.9 kyr BP, sea‐ice formation was favored by decreased surface salinities due to the meltwater events from Lake Agassiz‐Ojibway and the Hudson Bay Ice Saddle from 8.55 kyr BP onwards. For the past ca. 7.5 kyr BP sea ice is mainly transported to the study area by local ocean currents such as the inner Labrador and Baffin Current. Our findings provide new insights into the response of sea ice to increased meltwater discharge as well as shifts in atmospheric and oceanic circulation.

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