Sea ice and associated feedback mechanisms play an important role for both long- and short-term climate change. Our ability to predict future sea ice extent, however, hinges on a greater understanding of past sea ice dynamics. Here we investigate sea ice changes in the eastern Bering Sea prior to, across, and after the Mid-Pleistocene transition (MPT). The sea ice record, based on the Arctic sea ice biomarker IP25 and related open water proxies from the International Ocean Discovery Program Site U1343, shows a substantial increase in sea ice extent across the MPT. The occurrence of late-glacial/deglacial sea ice maxima are consistent with sea ice/land ice hysteresis and land-glacier retreat via the temperature-precipitation feedback. We also identify interactions of sea ice with phytoplankton growth and ocean circulation patterns, which have important implications for glacial North Pacific Intermediate Water formation and potentially North Pacific abyssal carbon storage.
Cites: Nature. 2008 Aug 14;454(7206):869-72 PMID 18704083