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Holocene polynya dynamics and their interaction with oceanic heat transport in northernmost Baffin Bay

  • Jackson, Rebecca1
  • Kvorning, Anna Bang1, 2
  • Limoges, Audrey3
  • Georgiadis, Eleanor4, 5
  • Olsen, Steffen M.6
  • Tallberg, Petra7
  • Andersen, Thorbjørn J.2
  • Mikkelsen, Naja1
  • Giraudeau, Jacques5
  • Massé, Guillaume8, 9
  • Wacker, Lukas10
  • Ribeiro, Sofia1
  • 1 Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Øster Voldgade 10, Copenhagen, 1350, Denmark , Copenhagen (Denmark)
  • 2 University of Copenhagen, Øster Voldgade 10, Copenhagen, 1350, Denmark , Copenhagen (Denmark)
  • 3 University of New Brunswick, 2 Bailey Drive, Fredericton, E3B 5A3, Canada , Fredericton (Canada)
  • 4 Durham University, Lower Mountjoy, South Road, Durham, DH1 3LE, UK , Durham (United Kingdom)
  • 5 Université Bordeaux, CNRS, EPHE, UMR 5805 EPOC, Allée Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire CS 50023, Pessac Cedex, 33615, France , Pessac Cedex (France)
  • 6 Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI), Lyngbyvej 100, Copenhagen, 2100, Denmark , Copenhagen (Denmark)
  • 7 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, 00014, Finland , Helsinki (Finland)
  • 8 Station Marine De Concarneau, Place De La Croix, Concarneau, 29900, France , Concarneau (France)
  • 9 Université Laval, CNRS, UM 3376 TAKUVIK, Allée de la Médecine, Québec, G1V0A6, Canada , Québec (Canada)
  • 10 Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Otto-Stern-Weg 5, Zürich, 8093, Switzerland , Zürich (Switzerland)
Published Article
Scientific Reports
Springer Nature
Publication Date
May 12, 2021
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-88517-9
Springer Nature


Baffin Bay hosts the largest and most productive of the Arctic polynyas: the North Water (NOW). Despite its significance and active role in water mass formation, the history of the NOW beyond the observational era remains poorly known. We reconcile the previously unassessed relationship between long-term NOW dynamics and ocean conditions by applying a multiproxy approach to two marine sediment cores from the region that, together, span the Holocene. Declining influence of Atlantic Water in the NOW is coeval with regional records that indicate the inception of a strong and recurrent polynya from ~ 4400 yrs BP, in line with Neoglacial cooling. During warmer Holocene intervals such as the Roman Warm Period, a weaker NOW is evident, and its reduced capacity to influence bottom ocean conditions facilitated northward penetration of Atlantic Water. Future warming in the Arctic may have negative consequences for this vital biological oasis, with the potential knock-on effect of warm water penetration further north and intensified melt of the marine-terminating glaciers that flank the coast of northwest Greenland.

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