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Ice sheets and climate in the Eurasian arctic at the last glacial maximum.


The major scientific objectives of the proposed work are: (a) to reconstruct the glacial and climate history of the Eurasian Arctic for the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) 18,000 to 20,000 years ago from field observations and remote sensing investigations and (b) to model numerically the ice sheets and their sensitivity to climate change. For the LGM, the Eurasian Arctic represents the largest uncertainty concerning the global distribution of glaciers, with order of magnitude differences in the area and volume of ice between the existing maximum and minimum ice-sheet reconstructions.
In order to make a more reliable reconstruction of both the glacial and climate history, we will undertake extensive field investigations in critical sectors of the Russian Arctic that have been affected by these ice sheets. The changed political climate in Russia has allowed partners in this proposal to establishn collaborative links with Russian scientists, and to gain access to key geological field sites. Such collaboration has also been enhanced by the activities of the recently established European Science Foundation Prograrnme on the "Quaternary Environment of the Eurasian North" (QUEEN).
Improved knowledge of the palaeoenvironment and palaeoglaciology of the Eurasian North will give a better foundation for testing the General Circulation Models (GCMs) and thereby improve their predicting capabilities. It will also contribute to our basic understanding of the way the climate system works. The extent, thickness and timing of growth and decay of the huge Eurasian ice sheets that terminated on the North European and Siberian owlands are crucial for understanding past climatic and oceanographic changes.
Our research programme is divided into several work packages (WPs), with specific partners responsible for field investigations in different areas of the Eurasian North. The eastern flank of the Scandinavian Ice Sheet and the northward transition to the Barents Ice Sheet will be the focus of WP 1. In WP 2 we will study the development of the southern flank of the Kara Ice Sheet and in WP 3 the eastern flank of this ice sheet. The field-based studies will include geological, palynological and geo-chronological investigations of exposed sediments and cores from lake basins, together with large-scale glacial landform mapping from aerial photographs and satellite images. In Work Package 4 a mathematical ice-sheet model will be used to assess the sensitivity of ice build-up and decay in the Eurasian Arctic to an envelope of past environmental conditions. Observations on the extent of full-glacial ice, and the timing and pattern of icesheet growth and decay, will be archived in an established digital database, and will be used to test the numerical model predictions of ice sheet geometry through time.
The global change implications of our work will be exploited more widely. (a) Results of field studies and geologically-constrained modelling of ice-sheet dimensions through time will be gridded at 200 by 200 km, providing direct inputs to GCM modelling of the Earth's palaeoclimate being undertaken as part of the IGBP-PAGES "Circumpolar Arctic Palaeo-Environments" Programme (CAPE). (b) Ice sheet numerical modelling will predict the rate of fresh water production, both at the LGM and during ice growth and decay, which is critical to the behaviour of the Arctic Ocean and Norwegian-Greenland Sea thermohaline circulation and, in turn, to the climate of north-west Europe. These ice-sheet model outputs will be available as input to physical oceanographic modelling of the Arctic seas under MAST III.

Call for proposal

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Universitetet i Bergen
5020 Bergen

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EU contribution
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Participants (4)