A “critical” climatic evaluation of last interglacial (MIS 5e) records from the Norwegian Sea

  • Henning A. Bauch
  • Helmut Erlenkeuser


Sediment cores from the Norwegian Sea were studied to evaluate interglacial climate conditions of the marine isotope stage 5e (MIS 5e). Using planktic forminiferal assemblages as the core method, a detailed picture of the evolution of surface water conditions was derived. According to our age model, a steplike deglaciation of the Saalian ice sheets is noted between ca. 135 and 124.5 Kya, but the deglaciation shows little response with regard to surface ocean warming. From then on, the rapidly increasing abundance of subpolar forminifers, concomitant with decreasing iceberg indicators, provides evidence for the development of interglacial conditions sensu stricto (5e-ss), a period that lasted for about 9 Ky. As interpreted from the foraminiferal records, and supported by the other proxies, this interval of 5e-ss was in two parts: showing an early warm phase, but with a fresher, i.e., lower salinity, water mass, and a subsequent cooling phase that lasted until ca. 118.5 Kya. After this time, the climatic optimum with the most intense advection of Atlantic surface water masses occurred until ca. 116 Kya. A rapid transition with two notable climatic perturbations is observed subsequently during the glacial inception. Overall, the peak warmth of the last interglacial period occurred relatively late after deglaciation, and at no time did it reach the high warmth level of the early Holocene. This finding must be considered when using the last interglacial situation as an analogue model for enhanced meridional transfer of ocean heat to the Arctic, with the prospect of a future warmer climate.


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How to Cite
Bauch H. A., & Erlenkeuser H. (2008). A “critical” climatic evaluation of last interglacial (MIS 5e) records from the Norwegian Sea. Polar Research, 27(2), 135-151. https://doi.org/10.3402/polar.v27i2.6172