The Arctic Ocean was covered by a shelf ice and filled with freshwater

Posted: February 4, 2021 by oldbrew in History, research, sea ice
Tags: ,

Arctic Ocean

Something new for ice age theorists to consider, in particular the ‘sudden melting’. This sequence of three sketches illustrates the processes thought to be involved (see below for explanatory caption).
– – –
The Arctic Ocean was covered by up to 900-meter-thick shelf ice and was filled entirely with freshwater at least twice in the last 150,000 years.

This surprising finding, reported in the latest issue of the journal Nature, is the result of long-term research by scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute and the MARUM, says

With a detailed analysis of the composition of marine deposits, the scientists could demonstrate that the Arctic Ocean as well as the Nordic Seas did not contain sea-salt in at least two glacial periods.

Instead, these oceans were filled with large amounts of freshwater under a thick ice shield. This water could then be released into the North Atlantic in very short periods of time.

Such sudden freshwater inputs could explain rapid climate oscillations for which no satisfying explanation had been previously found.

Continued here.
– – –
The caption to the sequence of three sketches says:

In glacial periods with low sea levels, exchange with the Pacific was halted and exchange with the North Atlantic was extremely reduced, while the Arctic basin was still receiving freshwater input. Exchange could only occur through narrow gateways in the Greenland-Scotland-Ridge. The sequence of three sketches shows (1) a period of freshening of the Arctic Ocean followed by (2) the release of freshwater to the North Atlantic, when saline water entered the Arctic Ocean and (3) sudden melting of the Arctic ice sheet upon contact with the relatively warm and salty Atlantic water. Credit: Alfred Wegener Institute/Martin Künsting

  1. Jim says:

    Yes, it is entirely possible. Now should those science personnel take a class in geology? To help them explain what is going on with the landforms, and explain how mountains are formed?

  2. Phoenix44 says:

    Once again the lack of understanding of past climate changes is highlighted. Yet apparently we know all about climate change.

  3. ivan says:

    This appears to be another attempt to support the UN Church of Climatology global warming mantra now the world temperature is dropping.

  4. oldbrew says:

    The Arctic Ocean was covered by up to 900-meter-thick shelf ice and was filled entirely with freshwater at least twice in the last 150,000 years.

    So some natural factors melted 900m. thickness of Arctic-wide sea ice in between the two periods. But nowadays, comparatively trivial increases in seasonal melt must be a correctable problem caused by humans?

  5. JB says:

    “In North America, large parts of what is now known as Canada were buried under two large ice sheets. Greenland and parts of the Bering Sea coastline were glaciated too. What was the ice situation like even further North, in the Arctic Ocean? Was it covered by thick sea-ice, or maybe with the tongues of these vast ice sheets were floating on it, far beyond the North Pole?

    Scientific answers to these questions have been more or less hypothetical so far.”

    So are the questions. There must have been some awful fast melting of those ice sheets by 12KBCE at least for mega flora and fauna to proliferate throughout that region in a temperate climate.
    The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes, Chap 7 Firestone et al (Even the authors missed the significance of those animal bones at the Clovis layer)

    ” In contrast to deposits on land, where erratic boulders, moraines and glacial valleys are the obvious landmarks of glaciers,…” Erratic boulders are not left behind by glaciers. In recent decades the actual movement of glaciers has been profiled, the action similar to the rolling tread of tracked vehicles. What is left behind is a fine residue.

  6. Phil Salmon says:

    This is very interesting.
    It looks like the accumulated freshwater releases coincide with obliquity peaks, one in three of which trigger interglacials.

  7. The freshwater was from the great ice sheets. The great ice sheets were heavy and that tilted the land toward the Arctic, The great ice sheets were thawing as they spread south and the meltwater flowed into the Arctic in surges, each large surge spilled into the other oceans, but much evaporated and put new snowfall on Greenland, evidenced by the ice core records and some froze adding to the Arctic ice storage.
    If the coral records indicate the calculated sea levels for the long cold ice ages was wrong, that is actual data against a calculation, I go with actual data.
    Again, it is way past time to throw away past consensus, and study the past climate using the best data we can verify and come up with new, better theories as to what is happening and what has happened.

  8. At Phil Salmon You wrote: coincide with obliquity peaks, one in three

    If only one in three correlate, look for a different cause.

    The actual cause of ice ages is ice. The actual cause of ice is warm deep thawed Arctic Ocean with more evaporation and snowfall. All ice ages follow warm periods with more snowfall, that correlation is 100%. Ice is considered, in consensus literature, a cause of colder climate. If you spread a lot of ice on land, and dump a lot of ice into oceans, that causes colder. Ice is cause. Ice extent is cause of warming and cooling. It snows more in all warm times and it always gets colder after. It snows less in all cold times and it always gets warmer after. Ice core records show that this correlation is 100%.

  9. oldbrew says:

    Phil Salmon says: February 4, 2021 at 10:24 pm
    This is very interesting.
    It looks like the accumulated freshwater releases coincide with obliquity peaks, one in three of which trigger interglacials.

    – – –
    The ‘one in three’ idea would fit in with this Talkshop post:
    Obliquity, inclination and eccentricity of Earth – a model: Part 2

    122825.51 / 3 = 40941.836 years = obliquity period (according to this model).

    This is where the idea of the obliquity multiples of 2 and 3, as discussed in Part 1 of the model, comes from.
    . . .
    Summary – the model proposes that:
    Ratio of Obliquity cycle to Inclination cycle is 1:√3
    Ratio of Obliquity cycle to Eccentricity cycle is 1:√6
    Ratio of Inclination cycle to Eccentricity cycle is 1:√2.
    – – –
    Part 1 is here:

  10. Paul Vaughan says:

    Glacial episodes of a freshwater Arctic Ocean covered by a thick ice shelf, _Nature_ (2021).
    According to their study, the floating parts of the northern ice sheets covered large parts of the Arctic Ocean in the past 150,000 years. Once about 70,000-60,000 years ago and also about 150,000-130,000 years ago. In both periods, freshwater accumulated under the ice, creating a completely fresh Arctic Ocean for thousands of years.
    To our knowledge, this is the first time that a complete freshening of the Arctic Ocean and the Nordic Seas has been considered—happening not just once, but twice […]

    frequency s_3 = 1 / 68753.3156498674 (from Laskar)

    “about 70,000-60,000 years ago”
    contains 68753.3156498674

    “about 150,000-130,000 years ago”
    contains 137506.631299735 = 2 * 68753.3156498674

    supplementary calculations for comparison:
    25763.987503107 = beat(1.00001743371442,0.99997862) (from Seidelmann)
    41204.6347677997 = beat(68753.3156498674,25763.987503107) — obliquity

  11. Paul Vaughan says:

    This is another example of the need to fathom the combination of — (a) spatiotemporal boundary conditions and (b) material phase changes — in climate solutions.

    Bill Illis was the only online master-commentator on such examples (e.g. Drake passage opening and closing, Gulf stream, ENSO underwater part). The only thing I really miss about a site I strictly boycott: Bill’s commentary.

  12. Phil Salmon says:

    Oldbrew, Paul

    That maths makes sense.
    As I understand it, currently (post-MPR) all three oscillations, precession, obliquity and eccentricity, have to line up and peak together to evoke an interglacial. Pre-MPR a million years ago and more, obliquity by itself was enough.

    Javier (blogger at Judith Curry) claims that after the mid-Pleistocene revolution (or “transition”), interglacials initiate 6500 years after obliquity peaks. Ocean thermal inertia. So you also see this lag?

  13. oldbrew says:

    According to Richard Muller ‘the primary period of oscillation in the zodiacal frame (A) is 70 kyr, but in the invariable plane (D) it is 100 kyr.’ (caption to Fig. 3). His analysis proposes a ‘hypothesis that the glacial cycles are driven by orbital inclination.’

    Quote: ‘Since orbital inclination does not affect insolation, we must search for another mechanism relating changes in orbital inclination to changes in global climate. The only plausible one we have found is accretion of interplanetary material: meteoroids and dust. ‘

    Presumably any dust will do, whether of external origin or not?
    Update: on further reading of the paper, it’s not so simple.

    Data on noctilucent clouds (mesospheric clouds strongly associated with the effects of high meteors and high altitude dust) supports the hypothesis that accretion increases significantly when the Earth passes through the invariable plane.

    Obliquity* √3 = ~71 kyr, 71 kyr* √2 = ~100 kyr
    So if this is how it works we’re looking at geometric means (GM) of two numbers, in effect: either 1 and 3 obliquities (GM=71 kyr), or 2 and 3 (GM=100 kyr).

  14. Paul Vaughan says:

    OB, the %errors are far too huge with those multipliers, but placeholders refined in discrete insight-steps can be quite helpful as mnemonic devices expediting recall and learning.

    I started looking into this stuff more seriously in late December 2020. I now realize every cycle can be pinned precisely. That doesn’t mean professionals have actively conscious intimate awareness of all details.

    Why? The matrix calculations quickly blow up into infinitely factorial combinations when one starts quantifying slip cycle stability by adapting Bollinger’s (1952) symbolic method, forcing one to settle for specialized consciousness (given limits on available conscious awareness time and speed …and long-term memory of seemingly countless tiny but meaningful distinctions).

    I’ve chosen the cluster of frequencies around Hale (nominal ’22) because that helps me understand in richer context and far more deeply work I did a decade ago on synchronization and solar cycle aggregation criteria.

    I have enough insight now to do extremely detailed diagnostics — for example precisely tying tiny variations in solar rotation rate to “eccentricity” — intended in the nominal sense with no. inclination too [hehe…] ignore confounded quantities (Φ’11 sol-moon-watch 4 “^5” comment appearing there soon).

  15. Paul Vaughan says:

    Phil: As with polar motion (and Chandler wobble & QBO) precession is about how water is thrown relative to the equator. Best way to understand: hydrology. Just a brief note — as I suspect you’ve already seen those classic precession papers — really clean stuff.

    I love this quote:

    “Apart from all other reasons, the parameters of the geoid depend on the distribution of water over the planetary surface.” – Nikolay Sidorenkov

  16. Phil Salmon says:

    Obliquity also moves water relative to the equator, affecting among other things the extent of the ITCZ. I agree with approaches that combine all the Milankovitch cycles for overall effect on insolation.

    “These three remain: eccentricity, precession and obliquity. But the greatest of these is obliquity.”

    BTW my last post had a typo, instead of “ So you also see this lag?” it should have been the question “ Do you also see this lag?”.

  17. Phil Salmon says:


    At Phil Salmon You wrote: coincide with obliquity peaks, one in three

    If only one in three correlate, look for a different cause.

    Not so much.

    Prior to the MPR a million years ago, every interglacial was timed with an obliquity peak. So there’s a reasonable basis for positing an important effect of obliquity.

    It’s a straightforward conclusion that prior to the MPR obliquity alone was enough to start an interglacial. But with deepening glaciation after the mid Pleistocene revolution/transition, it became “harder” to pull the system from glacial to interglacial such that all three Milankovitch cycles needed to peak together in their positive effect on insolation to initiate an interglacial.

    So now an interglacial only starts when obliquity peaks coincide with eccentricity/precession peaks. For confirmation, when the obliquity peaks are equidistant between a precession/eccentricity peak, then you get a double-headed interglacial timed with two consecutive obliquity maxima. This happened 200k and 600k years ago, and will happen again 200k years from now.

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