The Last Interglacial in the Arctic region is often described as a time with warmer conditions and significantly less summer sea ice than today. The role of Atlantic water (AW) as the main oceanic heat flux agent into the Arctic Ocean remains, however, unclear. Using high-resolution stable isotope and faunal records from the only deep Arctic Gateway, the Fram Strait, we note for the upper water column a diminished influence of AW and generally colder-than-Holocene surface ocean conditions. After the main Saalian deglaciation had terminated, a first intensification of northward-advected AW happened (~124 ka). However, an intermittent sea surface cooling, triggered by meltwater release at ~122 ka, caused a regional delay in the further development towards peak interglacial conditions. Maximum AW heat advection occurred during late MIS 5e (118.5-116 ka) and interrupted a longer-term cooling trend at the sea surface that started from about 120 ka on. Such a late occurrence of the major AW-derived near-surface warming in the Fram Strait - this is in stark contrast to an early warm peak in the Holocene - compares well in time with upstream records from the Norwegian Sea, altogether implying a coherent development of south-to-north ocean heat transfer through the eastern Nordic Seas and into the high Arctic during the Last Interglacial
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