EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Reconstruction of Holocene glacier fluctuations at Kongsbreen based on sediments deposited in lake Sarsvatnet, Ossian Sarsfjellet, Svalbard

Eivind W. N. Støren1, Ane Brun Bjerkås1, Jostein Bakke1, Henriette Linge1, William D`Andrea2, Willem van der Bilt1, Torgeir Røthe1, Nicholas L. Balascio3, Raymond S. Bradley4, Oliver Grant1, Derek Fabel5, and Sheng Xu5
Eivind W. N. Støren et al.
  • 1Department of Earth Science and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, University of Bergen
  • 2Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964, USA
  • 3Department of Geology, College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA 23187, USA
  • 4Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, USA
  • 5AMS Laboratory, Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, East Kilbride G75 0QF, Scotland, UK

The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the global average, and the melting of mountain glaciers and ice caps has accelerated over the last two decades accompanied by reduced sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. Here we combine sedimentological and geochemical approaches to reconstruct changes in glacier extent at the marine terminating glacier Kongsbreen in order to put present-day climate changes into a longer time perspective. Glaciers are highly sensitive climate indicators as they rapidly respond to variations in summer temperature and precipitation, two parameters that are closely linked to atmospheric dynamics. This climate response is recorded by variations in glacier extent and moraine formation and by variations in glacial erosion and hence sedimentation rates in distal glacier-fed lakes. Lake Sarsvatnet is a threshold-lake that only receive glacial derived sediments when the surface of Kongsbreen crosses a local threshold. When the catchment is ice-free, lake sedimentation rate is lower and dominated by material weathered from the immediate proximity and organic-rich sediments. Based on seismic surveying seven coring sites were selected in three different sub-basins in lake Sarsvatnet. Laboratory analyses, including geochemical measurement by XRF scanning and XRD, CT scanning, grain size and measurements of magnetic proxies, were preformed in order to fingerprint the inorganic sediments. Chronological control is based on radiometric dating (14C, 210Pb, and 10Be). Erratics (n=3, 125-306 m a.s.l.) indicate ice-free conditions since 13.0±1.1 ka (2σ), overlapping with the oldest organic material found in the lake which is 11 860±80 cal. yr BP. Until around 7400 cal. yr BP lake Sarsvatnet is dominated by organic sedimentation. From around 7400 – 6900 cal. yr BP there is evidence for glacial input into the lake indicating the expansion of Kongsbreen and corresponding to the decline in temperature after the HTM. In the following millennia, and entering the Neoglacial period, there is evidence for mulitiple (~20) decadal to centennial-scale periods of glacier expansion, the most recent dated to AD 1650 marking the onset of glacier build-up towards the LIA maximum. This indicate that the Kongsbreen glacier had short lived expansion periods reaching LIA-like extension already during the middle Holocene, as well as multiple times during the Neoglacial.



How to cite: Støren, E. W. N., Brun Bjerkås, A., Bakke, J., Linge, H., D`Andrea, W., van der Bilt, W., Røthe, T., Balascio, N. L., Bradley, R. S., Grant, O., Fabel, D., and Xu, S.: Reconstruction of Holocene glacier fluctuations at Kongsbreen based on sediments deposited in lake Sarsvatnet, Ossian Sarsfjellet, Svalbard, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-19216,, 2020


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