2003 Seattle Annual Meeting (November 2–5, 2003)

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM


WERNER, A.1, ROOF, S.R.2, KATHAN, K.M.1, PRATT, E.M.1, BRIGHAM-GRETTE, J.3, POWELL, R.D.4 and RETELLE, M.J.5, (1)Earth and Environment, Mount Holyoke College, Clapp Lab, South Hadley, MA 01075, (2)School of Natural Science, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA 01002-5001, (3)Geosciences, Univ of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, (4)Geology, Northern Illinois Univ, DeKalb, IL 60115, (5)Geology, Bates College, Lewiston, ME, awerner@mtholyoke.edu

The Svalbard archipelago (between 74° and 81° N latitude) in the north Atlantic lies at the northern end of the warm Gulf Stream current and therefore is sensitive to subtle climate and oceanographic changes. On Svalbard, the 20th century has been associated with profound reductions in sea ice and the retreat of glaciers in association with measured warming. Proxy records of Holocene climate indicate that Svalbard experienced even greater climatic fluctuations during the late Holocene culminating with the Little Ice Age at the end of the 19th century. As part of a three year Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) project, we have initiated a monitoring and modern process study of a glacier-fed lake system located in Linné Valley on the west coast of Spitsbergen. The Linné Glacier and several small cirque glaciers exist in the headwaters of the Linné Valley and contribute meltwater to Lake Linné located 5 km down-valley. Prominent moraines fronting these glaciers testify to late Holocene glacier advances and well-laminated cores recovered from Lake Linné further document past glacier fluctuations. We are studying the modern climatological, glaciological, hydrological, and sedimentological processes operating in the Linné Valley, in order to better interpret existing and future multi-proxy sediment cores obtained from Lake Linné. Over the next four years we will continue to monitor the local climate and the glacial, fluvial, and lacustrine systems. The local climate is being documented by a network of automated weather stations. Glacier mass balance (and ablation rate) is being studied using ablation stakes, and the meltwater stream will be routinely measured and sampled. Eight moorings (sediment traps and logging thermisters) have been deployed at varying distances from the inflow stream (and depths) to document the amount (and nature) of sediment deposition in the basin and to monitor the seasonal changes in the lake’s water mass. Our ultimate objective is to provide a more accurate means for calibrating the paleoclimatic signal in the lake sediments.