The Paleocene – Eocene (66-33.9 mio years BP) geological record of Svalbard is a globally unique deep time paleoclimate archive. This time interval was a period of high atmospheric CO2 levels and a warm greenhouse climate and the best existing analogue for projected near future warming. This record holds a unique possibility for development of a world class field laboratory for establishing long term regional stable isotope records and for investigating landscape and vegetation response, incl ecosystem resilience to a warming high Arctic.
The project team is an expansion and consolidation of previous Svalbard Strategic Grant funded initiatives. A first palaeoclimate in Svalbard workshop was held through the SSG-funded Svalbard Rockvault project in fall 2021, where participants agreed to work towards develop long time series of joint data sets, for example continuous stable isotope curves through relevant time intervals. The team consists of scientists previously working on individual palaeoclimate research questions in Svalbard and coordinates national and international experts and infrastructure in a team effort to provide a joint time series for a scientifically highly relevant time interval.
The project uses existing data sets, drill core material and unique 3D data of the subsurface to reach the goal. Among the data sets are unique archived coal samples from the Svea Nord mine, which provide an extraordinary 500.000 yrs time series that have not been analysed previously. We use novel methodology developed and refined through the Svalbard Strategic Grant pilot project “Coal – the ice core of the warm past” completed in 2021. The project will focus on three time intervals below and above the PETM (Paleocene - Eocene thermal maximum) to provide the best possible coupling to previous data series. All new data will be collected in successions where it can be coupled to existing knowledge and ongoing research interests.