Glacial geomorphology of the central Barents Sea: implications for the dynamic deglaciation of the Barents Sea Ice Sheet

Andrew Newton, Mads Huuse

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Contemporary climate change has resulted in great uncertainty in how glaciers and ice sheets around the Earth might evolve. It has long been appreciated that the contemporary West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) shares many similarities with the former Barents Sea Ice Sheet (BSIS). Therefore, an increasing number of studies have sought to investigate the Barents Sea glacial record to better understand marine-based glaciation. This paper reports the analysis of a new high-resolution bathymetric survey covering ~ 55,000 km2 in the central Barents Sea. The relative chronologies of newly-mapped glacial landforms such as mega-scale glacial lineations, grounding-zone wedges, moraines, and crevasse-squeeze ridges are used to reconstruct the ice sheet dynamics in the central Barents Sea. Our results show that the ice sheet responded dynamically with different periods of retreat, advance, and stagnation observed. These new landform records have been integrated with other geomorphological records in order to reconstruct the retreat pattern of the BSIS between 17–14 ka, when the Fennoscandian Ice Sheet is thought to have uncoupled from the BSIS. Our data shows that the dynamic drawdown of the ice sheet saddle by ice streams was probably the primary mechanism in separating the two ice sheets. After the ice sheets uncoupled, the BSIS is shown to have retreated episodically with several periods of relative stability. Geomorphological records such as those from the BSIS can be used to constrain ice sheet modelling and will help to develop a clearer understanding of marine-based glaciation and the role of ice streams in driving ice sheet evolution.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)114-131
    Number of pages18
    JournalMarine Geology
    Early online date7 Apr 2017
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


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