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CALIBRATING THE SEDIMENT RECORD OF LINNéVATNET, SVALBARD, NORWAY: PRELIMINARY RESULTS OF A MODERN PROCESS STUDY

WERNER, AL  Mount Holyoke College.
Roof, Steve R.  Hampshire College.
Kathan, Kasey M.  Mount Holyoke College.
Pratt, Emily M.  Mount Holyoke College.
Brigham-Grette, Julie  Univ. of Massachusetts.
Powell, Ross D.  Northern Illinois Univ.
Retelle, Mike J.  Bates College.

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. 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 sediment cores recovered from Lake Linné have been used to date the onset of Neoglaciation and to infer subsequent glacier fluctuations.

As part of a three year Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) project, we have initiated a monitoring and modern process study of the glacier-fed lake system located in Linné Valley on the west coast of Spitsbergen. We are studying the modern climatological, glaciological, hydrological, and sedimentological processes operating in the Linné Valley, in order to better interpret sediment cores recovered from Lake Linné. An automated weather station and three temperature stations are being used to document local weather conditions, glacier mass balance (and ablation rate) is being studied using ablation stakes, and the meltwater stream is monitored for river stage and routinely sampled to determine sediment load. Five moorings (sediment traps and data logging thermisters) have been deployed at varying depths and distances from the inflow stream 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. Future plans will expand the REU to glaciology and late Holocene marine sediments.


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