Driftwood as an indicator of relative changes in the influx of Arctic and Atlantic water into the coastal areas of Svalbard
AbstractA total of 276 driftwood samples from Wijdefjorden on the northern coast of Spitsbergen were den-drochronologically analysed and compared with results from a similar study on driftwood from Isfjorden. The composition and origin of the driftwood from the two places differ. Whereas Larix is almost absent in the Isfjorden driftwood, it comprises 25% of the Wijdefjorden collection. The Isfjorden driftwood has its main origin in the White Sea region and the dates of the driftwood concentrate around the period from 1950 to 1979, with only a few dates from the period 1910 to 1950. The Wijdefjorden driftwood has two main origins: Siberia and the White Sea region. The dates of the White Sea components of the Wijdefjorden driftwood are concentrated mainly in the period 1910-1950. The dates of the Siberian (Yenisey) components of the Wijdefjorden driftwood are concentrated in the period 1950–1979. It can be argued that during the time period from ca. 1910 to 1950 the activity of a warm northerly flowing current along the western coast of Spitsbergen was stronger, transporting White Sea driftwood all the way to the Wijdefjorden area. However, after ca. 1950 the input of White Sea driftwood decreased, and the relative importance of the Siberian component increased. These results fit well with the climatic records from Svalbard, showing a warm regime during the first half of this century due to increased activity of the warm West Spitsbergen Current along the western coast of Spitsbergen. After ca. 1950, the influx of Atlantic Water became weaker, the climate became colder and the relative occurrences of Siberian driftwood transported by the Transpolar Current increased on the northern coast of the Svalbard archipelago.
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