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Conference Papers Year : 2010

Glaciers and sea ice extent in iceland during the quaternary


In Iceland glacier development is closely related with the extent of the sea ice and the inland precipitation mostly controlled by the Irminger Current, a branch of the North Atlantic mild Current. Also the relief inherited from the volcanic activity of the hotspot favours the formation of the ice sheet, together with the cooling brought by the Eastern Cold Current derived from the Eastern Greenland current. This is the reason of the formation of an ice sheet in the South-East of the island where precipitation and the relief are the highest. The North is usually arid, a limiting factor for the glacial extent. During thermal optimum, glaciers usually vanish but restore during cooling events, especially late interglacials: it never reached a permanent volume as the Greenland or Antarctica ice sheets. Sea ice is for the moment absent, but developed along the Northern coast during the Little Ice Age. Sea ice extent prevent sea water vaporization and thus snow accumulation on land. Moreover, because of its position in the central northern Atlantic, Iceland is an intergrade between Greenland and the Eastern America, cooled by the Eastern Greeland Current and Scandinavia, warmed and sprayed thanks to the mild North Atlantic drift during interglacials. Curiously, the Pleistocene stratigraphy of Iceland is very limited even about 20 glaciations are recorded for the whole Quaternary. Well constrain for the Plio-Pleistocene, almost no clear stratigraphy is given for the Quaternary, excepted since the Older Dryas (13-12ka) and the Last Deglaciation. A lot of controversies exist, easy by limited dating, especially for the Middle and Upper Pleistocene. K-Ar dating and detailed stratigraphical work has raised the possibility of a more detailed record, especially for the Middel and Upper Pleistocene, more in conformity with marine records around the island and in other Nordic countries than the favourite interpretations.
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hal-00480248 , version 1 (03-05-2010)


  • HAL Id : hal-00480248 , version 1


Brigitte van Vliet-Lanoë, Hervé Guillou, A. Gudmundsson. Glaciers and sea ice extent in iceland during the quaternary. Iceland in the Central Northern Atlantic : Hotspot, sea currents and climate changes, May 2010, Plouzané, France. ⟨hal-00480248⟩
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