The importance of Canadian Arctic Archipelago gateways for glacial expansion in Scandinavia

Marcus Lofverstrom, Diane M Thompson, Bette L. Otto-Bliesner, Esther C. Brady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The last glacial cycle began around 116,000 years before present during a period with low incoming solar radiation in Northern Hemisphere summer. Following the glacial inception in North America, the marine sediment record depicts a weakening of the high-latitude ocean overturning circulation and a multi-millennial eastward progression of glaciation across the North Atlantic basin. Modelling studies have shown that reduced solar radiation can initiate inception in North America and Siberia; however, the proximity to the temperate North Atlantic typically precludes ice growth in Scandinavia. Using a coupled Earth-system–ice-sheet model, we show that ice forming in North America may help facilitate glacial expansion in Scandinavia. As large coherent ice masses form and start filling the ocean gateways in the Canadian Archipelago, the transport of comparatively fresh North Pacific and Arctic water through the archipelago is diverted east of Greenland, resulting in a freshening of North Atlantic deep convection regions, sea-ice expansion and a substantial cooling that is sufficient to trigger glacial inception in Scandinavia. This mechanism may also help explain the Younger Dryas cold reversal and the rapid regrowth of the Scandinavian Ice Sheet following several warm events in the last glacial period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)482-488
Number of pages7
JournalNature Geoscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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