Articles | Volume 8, issue 12
Biogeosciences, 8, 3545–3553, 2011

Special issue: Land-shelf-basin interactions of the Siberian Arctic

Biogeosciences, 8, 3545–3553, 2011

Research article 06 Dec 2011

Research article | 06 Dec 2011

Sedimentary organic matter and carbonate variations in the Chukchi Borderland in association with ice sheet and ocean-atmosphere dynamics over the last 155 kyr

S. F. Rella and M. Uchida S. F. Rella and M. Uchida
  • National Institute for Environmental Studies, Environmental Chemistry Division, AMS facility NIES-TERRA, Onogawa 16-2, Tsukuba 305-8506, Japan

Abstract. Knowledge on past variability of sedimentary organic carbon in the Arctic Ocean is important to assess natural carbon cycling and transport processes related to global climate changes. However, the late Pleistocene oceanographic history of the Arctic is still poorly understood. In the present study we show sedimentary records of total organic carbon (TOC), CaCO3, benthic foraminiferal δ18O and the coarse grain size fraction from a piston core recovered from the northern Northwind Ridge in the far western Arctic Ocean, a region potentially sensitively responding to past variability in surface current regimes and sedimentary processes such as coastal erosion. An age model based on oxygen stratigraphy, radiocarbon dating and lithological constraints suggests that the piston core records paleoenvironmental changes of the last 155 kyr. TOC shows orbital-scale increases and decreases that can be respectively correlated to the waxing and waning of large ice sheets dominating the Eurasian Arctic, suggesting advection of fine suspended matter derived from glacial erosion to the Northwind Ridge by eastward flowing intermediate water and/or surface water and sea ice during cold episodes of the last two glacial-interglacial cycles. At millennial scales, increases in TOC might correlate to a suite of Dansgaard-Oeschger Stadials between 120 and 45 ka before present (BP) indicating a possible response to abrupt northern hemispheric temperature changes. Between 70 and 45 ka BP, closures and openings of the Bering Strait could have additionally influenced TOC variability. CaCO3 content tends to anti-correlate with TOC on both orbital and millennial time scales, which we interpret in terms of enhanced sediment advection from the carbonate-rich Canadian Arctic via an extended Beaufort Gyre during warm periods of the last two glacial-interglacial cycles and increased organic carbon advection from the Siberian Arctic during cold periods when the Beaufort Gyre contracted. We propose that this pattern may be related to orbital- and millennial-scale variations of dominant atmospheric surface pressure systems expressed in mode shifts of the Arctic Oscillation.

Final-revised paper