Eastern Fram Strait Paleo-Archive (Expedition 403)

Summary from the Scientific ProspectusThe Fram Strait is a special gateway for ocean currents to flow between the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. The northward flowing current system plays important roles in regional and global climate change because of the heat, salt, and moisture it brings to the Arctic region, which influence the formation and melting of ice sheets and sea ice, as well as the overturning circulation of the ocean itself. Thick deposits of ocean sediments (sediment drifts) have accumulated over millions of years under the effect of the warm current flowing along the seafloor in the eastern Fram Strait. Shaped by the bottom current, and fed by the input of marine biological activity and sediments delivered by advancing and retreating glaciers on the nearby continental margin, sediment drifts contain the record of the past (paleo) oceanographic and climatic changes that occurred over millions of years. The dynamic history of ocean-ice interactions during global climate transitions, such as the onset of Northern Hemisphere glaciation, and past periods of rapid warming and higher CO2 levels than today can be reconstructed from the detailed record contained in these sediment drifts. These paleoclimate data are valuable for groundtruthing climate models of projected future CO2, temperature, and ice sheet stability.