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Oceanographic and Biological Implications of Arctic Sea-Ice Change: Evidence from Quaternary Benthic Foraminifers


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This project will provide insights into the history of sea-ice cover and related evolution of deep-sea fauna by using newly discovered, continuous Arctic microfaunal records characterizing a transition from seasonally ice-free to perennially ice-covered and glacially-affected oceanic environments in the western Arctic. The major thrusts of the proposal will focus on (1) investigating, in detail, foraminiferal distribution along with ostracodes and related sedimentary proxies in the Early Pleistocene, the time of mostly seasonal sea ice and little glacial inputs; (2) comparing these records to correlative IODP data from the North Atlantic for a broad geographic and paleoclimatic context of at least hemispheric scale; and (3) analyzing the distribution of foraminifers and ostracodes and, by proxy, sea-ice cover during the major climatic transitions and warm intervals in the younger stratigraphy in geographically distributed cores from the western Arctic Ocean. The recently observed and ongoing changes in sea ice distribution are expected to have significant impact on endemic Arctic species. The data developed during this project will be useful to modelers trying to understand past changes in the Arctic system and predict future changes.