Sea-surface temperature reconstruction of sediment cores from the Skagerrak

We attempt a reconstruction of salinity levels of the central Baltic Sea based on diatom assemblages, the isotopic composition of organic matter and sedimentological expression of anoxia over the last 10 000 years. We use the data to investigate the dependence of salinity levels on climate evolution and isostasy. Changes in salinity of surface and deep waters were most pronounced from 8400 to approximately 5000 cal. BP. Density stratification between salty deep and fresher surface waters caused the frequent development of anoxic conditions and deposition of laminated sediments on large parts of the sea floor in the central Baltic Sea, and dramatic changes in organic carbon-accumulation rates. From 5000 to 3100 cal. BP, the salinity of the basin decreased, oxygenation of deep sea floors was improved, and fertility of the sea surface was significantly reduced. This is reflected by low accumulation rates of organic carbon in bioturbated sediments. Since 2800 cal. BP, salinity rose again and anoxic periods were more common. Even though the major steps in environmental evolution in the Baltic Sea coincide with known patterns of climatic change of the North Atlantic realm over the last 10 000 years, we find no conclusive evidence for synchronous changes or linear responses on submillennial timescales. However, we note that major variations in our salinity records agree with temporal patterns of reconstructed summer warmth and winter precipitation in southern Scandinavia. Both types of record suggest that climate in the mid-Holocene was far from stable. Our data also confirm that climate evolution over the late Holocene had significant impact on environmental conditions in the Baltic Sea.

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CC BY 4.0