Variability in transport of terrigenous material on the shelves and the deep Arctic Ocean during the Holocene

  • Carolyn Wegner GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel
  • Katrina E. Bennett University of Alaska Fairbanks International Arctic Research Center
  • Anne de Vernal Geotop-UQAM
  • Matthias Forwick University of Tromsø
  • Michael Fritz Alfred-Wegener-Institut
  • Maija Heikkilä University of Helsinki
  • Magdalena Łacka Institute of Oceanology PAN
  • Hugues Lantuit Alfred-Wegener-Institut
  • Michał Laska University of Silesia
  • Mateusz Moskalik Institute of Geophysics Polish Academy of Sciences
  • Matt O'Regan Bolin Centre, Stockholm University
  • Joanna Pawłowska Institute of Oceanology PAN
  • Agnieszka Promińska Institute of Oceanology PAN
  • Volker Rachold International Arctic Science Committee
  • Jorien E. Vonk Utrecht University
  • Kirstin Werner Byrd Polar Research Center The Ohio State University
Keywords: Arctic, riverine input, coastal erosion, land–ocean interaction, Holocene


Arctic coastal zones serve as a sensitive filter for terrigenous matter input onto the shelves via river discharge and coastal erosion. This material is further distributed across the Arctic by ocean currents and sea ice. The coastal regions are particularly vulnerable to changes related to recent climate change. We compiled a pan-Arctic review that looks into the changing Holocene sources, transport processes and sinks of terrigenous sediment in the Arctic Ocean. Existing palaeoceanographic studies demonstrate how climate warming and the disappearance of ice sheets during the early Holocene initiated eustatic sea-level rise that greatly modified the physiography of the Arctic Ocean. Sedimentation rates over the shelves and slopes were much greater during periods of rapid sea-level rise in the early and middle Holocene, as a result of the relative distance to the terrestrial sediment sources. However, estimates of suspended sediment delivery through major Arctic rivers do not indicate enhanced delivery during this time, which suggests enhanced rates of coastal erosion. The increased supply of terrigenous material to the outer shelves and deep Arctic Ocean in the early and middle Holocene might serve as analogous to forecast changes in the future Arctic.

Keywords: Arctic; riverine input; coastal erosion; land–ocean interaction; Holocene.

(Published: 9 December 2015)

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Citation: Polar Research 2015, 34, 24964,


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How to Cite
Wegner C., Bennett K. E., de Vernal A., Forwick M., Fritz M., Heikkilä M., Łacka M., Lantuit H., Laska M., Moskalik M., O’Regan M., Pawłowska J., Promińska A., Rachold V., Vonk J. E., & Werner K. (2015). Variability in transport of terrigenous material on the shelves and the deep Arctic Ocean during the Holocene. Polar Research, 34.
Thematic Cluster: The Arctic in Rapid Transition - Marine Ecosystems