Arctic Ocean History, From Speculation to Reality

November 3-5, 2008 – Bremerhaven, Germany
Convener: Bernard Coakley, Ruediger Stein


The Arctic Ocean is crucial for understanding global ocean circulation processes and Mesozoic tectonics, but the ice-covered waters complicate collecting the necessary data to explore this history. In 2004, the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP; Expedition 302) recovered the first deep cores from the ocean floor beneath the Arctic Ocean. The successful execution of this expedition has provided new insights into the sensitivity and response of the high latitudes to greenhouse gases. The unexpected results derived from these cores have exposed the ancient Arctic Ocean, providing the basis for further studies by framing new questions and by highlighting how little is known. The workshop “Arctic Ocean History, From Speculation to Reality” will bring together an international group of scientists to plan future scientific ocean drilling expeditions to the Arctic Ocean that seek to understand this ocean basin, the continents that ring it, and the global climate system. (Photo of Expedition 302 courtesy of A. Keinonen (© ECORD/IODP).)


Scientists attending this workshop will discuss the intellectual and logistical context for future scientific drilling expeditions to the Arctic Ocean. The goal is to enable community-wide collaboration and planning on site survey and IODP drilling proposals to the Arctic Ocean. The objective of this workshop is to build the foundation for a comprehensive Arctic Ocean scientific drilling program in the next decade. The scientific focus will be both tectonic and paleo-oceanographic:

  • What was the pre-drift setting of the Chukchi Borderland?
  • What is the composition of the Alpha-Mendeleev Ridge?
  • What is the Mesozoic history of the Arctic Ocean?
  • When did the gateways to the Arctic Ocean open and close?
  • How did these gateways affect Arctic Ocean circulation?
  • What is the role of the Arctic in the greenhouse to icehouse transition?
  • What is the history of ice rafting in the Arctic Ocean?
  • How has the influx of fresh water to the basin changed over time?
  • How has continental glaciation influenced the Arctic Ocean?
  • What is the history of exchange between the Arctic Ocean and the northern Atlantic and Pacific?

Background Materials

Workshop Reports

Report in Eos (pdf)
Report in Scientific Drilling (pdf)
Final Workshop Report (pdf)

Organizing Committee

Organizing Committee Chairs:
Bernard Coakley, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Ruediger Stein, Alfred Wegener Institute

Organizing Committee:
Jan Backman, Stockholm University
Henk Brinkhuis, Utrecht University
Nick Kusznir, University of Liverpool
Naja Mikkelsen, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland
Kathryn Moran, University of Rhode Island
Jörn Thiede, Alfred Wegener Institute

Local Committee:
Kirsten Fahl, Alfred Wegener Institute
Wilfried Jokat, Alfred Wegener Institute
Jens Matthiessen, Alfred Wegener Institute
Ruediger Stein, Alfred Wegener Institute
Jörn Thiede, Alfred Wegener Institute

Sponsoring Organizations

Consortium for Ocean Leadership
European Science Foundation
Arctic Ocean Science Board
Nansen Arctic Drilling Program

European Science Foundation Arctic Ocean Sciences Board