Earth & Environmental Science Journalism:

Science Research Project


Interpreting the Impact of the Little Ice Age in the Labrador Sea.

Christina Reed



The Little Ice Age represents the most recent cold period in the Holocene. The use of a Multicorer to collect sediment from the Orphan Knoll, in the Labrador Sea, provided an intact record of the last 3,000 years, as indicated by accelerated mass spectrometry radiocarbon dates. This study measured magnetic susceptibility from KN158-4 23MC-Y(B), as well as two additional cores: HU91 -045-093, from the Orphan Knoll and HU90-013-017 from the Greenland Rise. Core KN158-4 23MC-Y(B) was also studied for its percent calcium carbonate and the number of ice-rafted lithics per gram. Accelerator mass spectrometer radiocarbon dates resulted in a zero age core top allowing for high resolution. Two steps in the magnetic susceptibility values occurred during times of cooling periods 600 ybp and 1700 ybp. A cool period 2800 ybp is recorded in the calcium carbonate data at 29-32.5 cm. The Medieval Warm Period is not easily recognized in the data, but may be attributed with a drop in lithics at 14.5-15 cm. The lithic counts in this data are comprised of very few lithic grains per gram resulting in poor precision. High lithic counts occurred during cooler periods with increased ice-rafted debris and an indication of the Little Ice Age may be seen in peaks 300, 500 and 600 ybp.

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Last updated: 8 January 2001, KAK.