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Martin JakobssonProfessor of Marine geology and Geophysics

About me

After completing a PhD in 2000 at the Department of Geological Sciences, Stockholm University, Martin Jakobsson joined the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire, USA, for a research scientist position. The PhD thesis was titled "Mapping the Arctic Ocean: Bathymetry and Pleistocene Paleoceanography". Martin returned to Stockholm University from USA in April 2004 for an Associate Professor position at the Department of Geological Sciences. From November 2004, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded him five years to devote full time for research as an Academy Fellow through support from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. He was promoted to full Professor of Marine Geology and Geophysics at Stockholm University in September 2009 and has served as Head of the Department of Geological Sciences since 2012. His current research interests include the Arctic Ocean glacial history, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, submarine glacial landforms and geophysical seafloor mapping using acoustic methods. Martin has spent more than one year of ship time onboard open ocean research vessels and he has been Co-Chief Scientist on eight international ocean expeditions. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Class V for Geoscience elected Martin as a member in 2012, and he is acting as the 1:st Vice President of the Academy since 2016.


Ten selected first authored peer-review publications are listed below (complete publication list and CV are availabel as PDFs)

Research projects


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Post-glacial flooding of the Bering Land Bridge dated to 11 cal ka BP based on new geophysical and sediment records

    2017. Martin Jakobsson (et al.). Climate of the Past 13 (8), 991-1005


    The Bering Strait connects the Arctic and Pacific oceans and separates the North American and Asian landmasses. The presently shallow (similar to 53 m) strait was exposed during the sea level lowstand of the last glacial period, which permitted human migration across a land bridge today referred to as the Bering Land Bridge. Proxy studies (stable isotope composition of foraminifera, whale migration into the Arctic Ocean, mollusc and insect fossils and paleobotanical data) have suggested a range of ages for the Bering Strait reopening, mainly falling within the Younger Dryas stadial (12.9-11.7 cal ka BP). Here we provide new information on the deglacial and post-glacial evolution of the Arctic-Pacific connection through the Bering Strait based on analyses of geological and geophysical data from Herald Canyon, located north of the Bering Strait on the Chukchi Sea shelf region in the western Arctic Ocean. Our results suggest an initial opening at about 11 cal ka BP in the earliest Holocene, which is later than in several previous studies. Our key evidence is based on a well-dated core from Herald Canyon, in which a shift from a near-shore environment to a Pacific-influenced open marine setting at around 11 cal ka BP is observed. The shift corresponds to meltwater pulse 1b (MWP1b) and is interpreted to signify relatively rapid breaching of the Bering Strait and the submergence of the large Bering Land Bridge. Although the precise rates of sea level rise cannot be quantified, our new results suggest that the late deglacial sea level rise was rapid and occurred after the end of the Younger Dryas stadial.

    Read more about Post-glacial flooding of the Bering Land Bridge dated to 11 cal ka BP based on new geophysical and sediment records
  • Evidence for an ice shelf covering the central Arctic Ocean during the penultimate glaciation

    2016. Martin Jakobsson (et al.). Nature Communications 7


    The hypothesis of a km-thick ice shelf covering the entire Arctic Ocean during peak glacial conditions was proposed nearly half a century ago. Floating ice shelves preserve few direct traces after their disappearance, making reconstructions difficult. Seafloor imprints of ice shelves should, however, exist where ice grounded along their flow paths. Here we present new evidence of ice-shelf groundings on bathymetric highs in the central Arctic Ocean, resurrecting the concept of an ice shelf extending over the entire central Arctic Ocean during at least one previous ice age. New and previously mapped glacial landforms together reveal flow of a spatially coherent, in some regions41-km thick, central Arctic Ocean ice shelf dated to marine isotope stage 6 (similar to 140 ka). Bathymetric highs were likely critical in the ice-shelf development by acting as pinning points where stabilizing ice rises formed, thereby providing sufficient back stress to allow ice shelf thickening.

    Read more about Evidence for an ice shelf covering the central Arctic Ocean during the penultimate glaciation
  • Arctic Ocean glacial history

    2014. Martin Jakobsson (et al.). Quaternary Science Reviews 92, 40-67


    While there are numerous hypotheses concerning glacial interglacial environmental and climatic regime shifts in the Arctic Ocean, a holistic view on the Northern Hemisphere's late Quaternary ice-sheet extent and their impact on ocean and sea-ice dynamics remains to be established. Here we aim to provide a step in this direction by presenting an overview of Arctic Ocean glacial history, based on the present state-of-the-art knowledge gained from field work and chronological studies, and with a specific focus on ice-sheet extent and environmental conditions during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). The maximum Quaternary extension of ice sheets is discussed and compared to LGM. We bring together recent results from the circum-Arctic continental margins and the deep central basin; extent of ice sheets and ice streams bordering the Arctic Ocean as well as evidence for ice shelves extending into the central deep basin. Discrepancies between new results and published LGM ice-sheet reconstructions in the high Arctic are highlighted and outstanding questions are identified. Finally, we address the ability to simulate the Arctic Ocean ice sheet complexes and their dynamics, including ice streams and ice shelves, using presently available ice-sheet models. Our review shows that while we are able to firmly reject some of the earlier hypotheses formulated to describe Arctic Ocean glacial conditions, we still lack information from key areas to compile the holistic Arctic Ocean glacial history.

    Read more about Arctic Ocean glacial history
  • The International Bathymetric Chart of the Arctic Ocean (IBCAO) Version 3.0

    2012. Martin Jakobsson (et al.). Geophysical Research Letters 39


    The International Bathymetric Chart of the Arctic Ocean (IBCAO) released its first gridded bathymetric compilation in 1999. The IBCAO bathymetric portrayals have since supported a wide range of Arctic science activities, for example, by providing constraint for ocean circulation models and the means to define and formulate hypotheses about the geologic origin of Arctic undersea features. IBCAO Version 3.0 represents the largest improvement since 1999 taking advantage of new data sets collected by the circum-Arctic nations, opportunistic data collected from fishing vessels, data acquired from US Navy submarines and from research ships of various nations. Built using an improved gridding algorithm, this new grid is on a 500 meter spacing, revealing much greater details of the Arctic seafloor than IBCAO Version 1.0 (2.5 km) and Version 2.0 (2.0 km). The area covered by multibeam surveys has increased from similar to 6% in Version 2.0 to similar to 11% in Version 3.0. Citation: Jakobsson, M., et al. (2012), The International Bathymetric Chart of the Arctic Ocean (IBCAO) Version 3.0, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L12609, doi:10.1029/2012GL052219.

    Read more about The International Bathymetric Chart of the Arctic Ocean (IBCAO) Version 3.0
  • Geological record of ice shelf break-up and grounding line retreat, Pine Island Bay, West Antarctica

    2011. Martin Jakobsson (et al.). Geology 39 (7), 691-694


    The catastrophic break-ups of the floating Larsen A and B ice shelves (Antarctica) in 1995 and 2002 and associated acceleration of glaciers that flowed into these ice shelves were among the most dramatic glaciological events observed in historical time. This raises a question about the larger West Antarctic ice shelves. Do these shelves, with their much greater glacial discharge, have a history of collapse? Here we describe features from the seafloor in Pine Island Bay, West Antarctica, which we interpret as having been formed during a massive ice shelf break-up and associated grounding line retreat. This evidence exists in the form of seafloor landforms that we argue were produced daily as a consequence of tidally influenced motion of mega-icebergs maintained upright in an iceberg armada produced from the disintegrating ice shelf and retreating grounding line. The break-up occurred prior to ca. 12 ka and was likely a response to rapid sea-level rise or ocean warming at that time.

    Read more about Geological record of ice shelf break-up and grounding line retreat, Pine Island Bay, West Antarctica
  • An Arctic Ocean ice shelf during MIS 6 constrained by new geophysical and geological data

    2010. Martin Jakobsson (et al.). Quaternary Science Reviews 29 (25-26), 3505-3517


    The hypothesis of floating ice shelves covering the Arctic Ocean during glacial periods was developed in the 1970s. In its most extreme form, this theory involved a 1000 m thick continuous ice shelf covering the Arctic Ocean during Quaternary glacial maxima including the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). While recent observations clearly demonstrate deep ice grounding events in the central Arctic Ocean, the ice shelf hypothesis has been difficult to evaluate due to a lack of information from key areas with severe sea ice conditions. Here we present new data from previously inaccessible, unmapped areas that constrain the spatial extent and timing of marine ice sheets during past glacials. These data include multibeam swath bathymetry and subbottom profiles portraying glaciogenic features on the Chukchi Borderland, southern Lomonosov Ridge north of Greenland, Morris Jesup Rise, and Yermak Plateau. Sediment cores from the mapped areas provide age constraints on the glaciogenic features. Combining these new geophysical and geological data with earlier results suggests that an especially extensive marine ice sheet complex, including an ice shelf, existed in the Amerasian Arctic Ocean during Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 6. From a conceptual oceanographic model we speculate that the cold halocline of the Polar Surface Water may have extended to deeper water depths during MIS 6 inhibiting the warm Atlantic water from reaching the Amerasian Arctic Ocean and, thus, creating favorable conditions for ice shelf development. The hypothesis of a continuous 1000 m thick ice shelf is rejected because our mapping results show that several areas in the central Arctic Ocean substantially shallower than 1000 m water depth are free from glacial influence on the seafloor.

    Read more about An Arctic Ocean ice shelf during MIS 6 constrained by new geophysical and geological data
  • The Early Miocene Onset of a Ventilated Circulation Regime in the Arctic Ocean

    2007. Martin Jakobsson (et al.). Nature 447 (7147), 986-990


    Deep-water formation in the northern North Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic Ocean is a key driver of the global thermohaline circulation and hence also of global climate. Deciphering the history of the circulation regime in the Arctic Ocean has long been prevented by the lack of data from cores of Cenozoic sediments from the Arctic’s deep-sea floor. Similarly, the timing of the opening of a connection between the northern North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean, permitting deep-water exchange, has been poorly constrained. This situation changed when the first drill cores were recovered from the central Arctic Ocean. Here we use these cores to show that the transition from poorly oxygenated to fully oxygenated (‘ventilated’) conditions in the Arctic Ocean occurred during the later part of early Miocene times. We attribute this pronounced change in ventilation regime to the opening of the Fram Strait. A palaeo-geographic and palaeo-bathymetric reconstruction of the Arctic Ocean, together with a physical oceanographic analysis of the evolving strait and sill conditions in the Fram Strait, suggests that the Arctic Ocean went from an oxygenpoor ‘lake stage’, to a transitional ‘estuarine sea’ phase with variable ventilation, and finally to the fully ventilated ‘ocean’ phase 17.5 Myr ago. The timing of this palaeo-oceanographic change coincides with the onset of the middle Miocene climatic optimum, although it remains unclear if there is a causal relationship between these two events.

    Read more about The Early Miocene Onset of a Ventilated Circulation Regime in the Arctic Ocean

Show all publications by Martin Jakobsson at Stockholm University