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SSF-Svalbard Science Forum

Improving understanding of the last deglaciation of the Barents Sea Ice Sheet and its effects on glacioisostatic rebound history in Svalbard

Alternative title: null

Awarded: NOK 0.25 mill.

Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) ice thickness, and the resulting ice flow pattern, is inferred mainly from dated raised beaches, and more recently also from the cosmogenic nuclide dating of bedrock in various parts of the Svalbard Archipelago. Recent marine ge ological/geophysical investigations have provided evidence of former ice flow patterns suggesting complex ice flow that challenges the existing views on the location of a major glaciation centre in the northern Barents Sea during the LGM and subsequent de glaciation. This project addresses the relatively poorly understood extent, thickness and deglacial history of the Svalbard-Barents Sea ice sheet and the effect of the existing ice load on the glacioisostatic uplift in Svalbard. WP 1 of this project will acquire new geological-geophysical data as well as examine existing ice thickness data in Svalbard. New geological samples would allow us to decipher whether ice originated from a large central Barents Sea ice dome (provenance studies) or conversely from eastern Spitsbergen and adjacent islands, and to determine for the first time the chronology of ice retreat in this critical area close to the former ice-sheet dome(s). Important new insights into the timing and nature of retreat (continuous vs. episodic , interrupted by still-stands or readvances during retreat) would be gained from analyses of the new data acquired from eastern Svalbard. These data are critical to our interpretation of glacioisostatic uplift and modelling results. WP 2 of the project will collate existing radar-derived ice thickness data for the Svalbard archipelago and use these to assess the effect of this residual modern ice load in restraining isostatic rebound that has taken place since the LGM. The results will be synthesized to better understand the full-glacial Late Weichselian ice sheet extent and dynamics, and the subsequent deglaciation history.

Funding scheme:

SSF-Svalbard Science Forum