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Palaeoenvironment and palaeoclimatic evolution of the Baltic sea basin during the last interglacial (Eemian, Mikulino)

Objective



The Last Interglacial (Eemian, Mikulino, Oxygen Isotope Stage [OIS] 5e: c.130-115 ka) is of particular interest to palaeoclimatology because it was characteristically warmer, had higher CÀ2 concentrations, higher sea levels and possibly more unstable conditions than during the present interglacial (Holocene, 0-10 ka). Moreover, the effect of these higher sea levels on the climate and environment of northern Europe remain very poorly understood. Preliminary geological evidence suggests that the Baltic Sea was significantly more extensive with a connection to the White Sea, effectively turning Fennoscandia into an island during some part of the last interglacial. The occurrence of a potentially enlarged water body may have been profound on the climate of adjacent landmasses as well as on palaeoeceanographic circulation patterns and deserves particular attention in the light of future climatic scenarios with higher sea levels. The BALTEEM project aims to investigate obtain and synthesise high-resolution palaeoclimate and palaeo-oceanographic records from the Baltic Sea region covering the period of the Last Interglacial in order to enhance our understanding of the role of this shallow marine basin as a component of the Global Climate system in the European sector. This objective will be achieved by the implementation of an integrated work programme involving contributors from six European countries.

The investigation will consist of a transect from Northern Denmark to Arkhangelsk, via Karelia, Poland and Estonia and will be focused exclusively on sediment sequences that span the whole, or almost all of the Last Interglacialin marine sediments known to occur in these areas. Each site will be investigated using a standardised palaeontological and sedimentological approach, supported by rigorous absolute dating techniques, as appropriate. These investigations will enable the reconstruction of the spatial and temporal distribution of water masses, currents and their influence on surrounding land areas. It will also provide a basis for assessing the influence of climate changes from those arising from isostatic effects, particularly in the nor them part of the basin. Changes in the climate will be related to deep sea and terrestrial sequences (and records of ice core sequences) to increase our understanding of the interaction of shallow marine and terrestial conditions on the regional climate system. The palaeoenvironmental data generated from the BALTEEM project will be combined with that already, or soon, available from published sources but never put together to form a coherent model of evolution of the basin. This will be critical for the validation and calibration of nested climate models currently being developed for the Northern European area. Considerable attention has been focused on the Last Interglacial because rapid oscillations between colder and warmer states apparently occurred against a background of elevated CO2 content and higher sea levels. This is a reflection of the stratigraphical position of the Eemian, which makes it the most immediately accessible period, but also suggests that the climatic signature of warmer and possibly more unstable conditions than during the Holocene may be reflecting these differences in environmental parameters. These characteristics demonstrate that knowledge of Eemian climatic evolution is an essential pre-requisite for the understanding of the sensitivity of components of the climate system for forecasts of future climate. 02

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

University of Cambridge
Address
Downing Place
CB2 3EN Cambridge
United Kingdom

Participants (3)

UNIVERSITY OF AARHUS
Denmark
Address
C.f. Moellers Allee 120
8000 Aarhus C
UNIVERSITY OF BERGEN
Norway
Address
41,Allégaten 41
5007 Bergen
University of Helsinki
Finland
Address
3,Snellmaninkatu
00014 Helsinki