Evidence for an ice shelf covering the central Arctic Ocean during the penultimate glaciation

Martin Jakobsson, Johan Nilsson, Leif Anderson, Jan Backman, Göran Björk, Thomas M. Cronin, Nina Kirchner, Andrey Koshurnikov, Larry Mayer, Riko Noormets, Matthew O'Regan, Christian Stranne, Roman Ananiev, Natalia Barrientos Macho, Denis Cherniykh, Helen Coxall, Björn Eriksson, Tom Flodén, Laura Gemery, Örjan GustafssonKevin Jerram, Carina Johansson, Alexey Khortov, Rezwan Mohammad, Igor Semiletov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


The hypothesis of a km-thick ice shelf covering the entire Arctic Ocean during peak glacial conditions was proposed nearly half a century ago. Floating ice shelves preserve few direct traces after their disappearance, making reconstructions difficult. Seafloor imprints of ice shelves should, however, exist where ice grounded along their flow paths. Here we present new evidence of ice-shelf groundings on bathymetric highs in the central Arctic Ocean, resurrecting the concept of an ice shelf extending over the entire central Arctic Ocean during at least one previous ice age. New and previously mapped glacial landforms together reveal flow of a spatially coherent, in some regions >1-km thick, central Arctic Ocean ice shelf dated to marine isotope stage 6 (∼140ka). Bathymetric highs were likely critical in the ice-shelf development by acting as pinning points where stabilizing ice rises formed, thereby providing sufficient back stress to allow ice shelf thickening.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10365
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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