Late Pleistocene and Holocene climatic and environmental history on coastal East Greenland

Martin Melles
Martin Klug


Bernd Wagner, Steffi Schmidt Institute for Baltic Sea Research, Warnemünde
Holger Cremer, André Lotter, Oliver Heiri University Utrecht, The Netherlands
Ole Bennike GEUS, Copenhagen, Danmark
Svante Björck, Christian Hjort University Lund, Sweden
Hans-W. Hubberten, Dirk Wagner Alfred Wegener Institute, Potsdam

    Funding: German Research Foundation (DFG)


The international project is targeted on a detailed reconstruction of the Late Quaternary glacial history and postglacial climatic and environmental changes alonbg the coast of East Greenland. For this purpose, sample material was collected on an expedition in summer 2003 from lakes, soils, and geomorphological units on two islands at the outer coast, Store Koldewey and Geographical Society Ø (see Figures). These islands according to former studies may have partly been ice-free during the Last Glacial Maximum.




Within the framework of the international project, the contribution of the University Leipzig, being funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG, grant no. ME 1169/10), focuses on chronological, sedimentological, and biogeochemical studies of the recovered lake sediment sequences, and, for the first time in East Greenland, on fossil chironomid successions in these deposits. A comparison of the deduced climatic and environmental history with that from other coastal ice-free regions of Greenland will contribute to a better understanding of regional peculiarities in ice movements, relative sea-level changes, and climate developments, and of the related reasons, such as changes in the atmospheric and oceanic circulation patterns.

The key questions for the project are:

(1) Have ice-free regions existed on the outer coast of East and Northeast Greenland during the Last Glacial Maximum; when and how did the deglaciation occur?

(2) How did climate evolve on the outer coast of East and Northeast Greenland during Late Pleistocene and Holocene times?

(3) Which interactions existed between the glacial history and associated isostatic movements, the regional sea-level history, and the climate history?

(4) Which differences exist in the climatic and environmental changes in East and Northeast Greenland compared to those of other coastal regions of Greenland, and what are the reasons?

(5) Which conclusions can be drawn concerning the stability of the Greenland Ice Sheet in dependence on past and future climate changes?