A persistent Norwegian Atlantic Current through the Pleistocene glacials

A. M. W. Newton, M. Huuse, S. H. Brocklehurst

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Changes in ocean‐circulation regimes in the northern North Atlantic and the Nordic Seas may affect not only the Arctic but potentially hemispheric or even global climate. Therefore, unraveling the long‐term evolution of the North Atlantic Current‐Norwegian Atlantic Current system through the Pleistocene glaciations could yield useful information and climatological context for understanding contemporary changes. In this work, ~50,000 km2 of 3‐D seismic reflection data are used to investigate the Pleistocene stratigraphy for evidence of paleo‐oceanographic regimes on the mid‐Norwegian margin since 2.58 Ma. Across 33 semicontinuous regional paleo‐seafloor surfaces ~17,500 iceberg scours have been mapped. This mapping greatly expands our spatiotemporal understanding of currents and iceberg presence in the eastern Nordic Seas. The scours display a dominant southwest‐northeast trend that complements previous sedimentological and numerical modeling studies that suggest northward‐flowing currents in the Norwegian Sea during the Pleistocene. This paleo‐oceanographic study suggests that through many of the Pleistocene glaciations, the location of surface ocean currents in the Norwegian Sea and, by extension, the eastern North Atlantic, were broadly similar to the present.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Early online date18 May 2018
Publication statusEarly online date - 18 May 2018


  • 3D Seismic Reflection
  • Iceberg Scours
  • Mid‐Norwegian Margin
  • North Atlantic Current
  • North Atlantic Deep Water
  • Norwegian Atlantic Current
  • Seismic Geomorphology


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