10Be surface exposure ages on the late-Pleistocene and Holocene history of Linnébreen on Svalbard

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Quaternary Science Reviews

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Department or Program


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holocene, late pleistocene, little ice age, neoglacial, Svalbard glaciers


Arctic glaciers were sensitive to past changes in high-latitude winter precipitation and summer temperature. Here we develop a late-Pleistocene to Holocene history for Linnébreen (Linné Glacier) in western Svalbard using 10Be surface exposure ages on isolated erratic and moraine boulders. We show that Linnébreen had separated from the larger ice sheet over Svalbard and was retreating up valley around the start of the Younger Dryas cold period. We attribute this retreat during a cold period on Svalbard to moisture starvation of Linnébreen from advanced sea ice and/or elevated shortwave boreal summer insolation that overwhelmed any reduction in sensible heat. After an ice-free period during the early to middle Holocene, Linnébreen reformed sometime after 4.6±0.2ka, and was at a position roughly equivalent to its Little Ice Age (LIA) maximum extent before it began to retreat at 1.6±0.2ka. Comparison with calibrated 14C dates from three other glaciers could suggest that this period of ice retreat at ~1.6ka could be regional in extent. Linnébreen occupied the pre-LIA moraine when there was an increased ratio of cold Arctic-sourced relative to warm Atlantic-sourced waters around Svalbard and advanced sea ice. The retreat of Linnébreen at ~1.6ka was concurrent with the increased presence of warm Atlantic waters around Svalbard and attendant sea-ice retreat. These coincident changes in ocean temperatures, sea-ice extent, and Linnébreen moraine age could imply a climatic forcing of the pre-LIA advance and retreat of Linnébreen. Summer temperatures, rather than changes in precipitation, would then be dominant in driving ice retreat, although the possibility of stochastic glacier-margin variability cannot be excluded. Our data therefore suggest that Linnébreen may have responded differently to past changes in sea-ice extent that could depend on the background climate state (deglacial climate vs. late-Holocene climate), which highlights the complexity in climatic controls on Arctic glaciers.


Original version is available from the publisher at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.01.017

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