Holocene climate and environmental history of East Greenland inferred from lake sediments

TitleHolocene climate and environmental history of East Greenland inferred from lake sediments
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsLusas, AR, Hall, BL, Lowell, TV, Kelly, MA, Bennike, O, Levy, LB, Honsaker, W
JournalJournal of Paleolimnology
Pagination321 - 341
Date PublishedJan-04-2017
KeywordsDe Vries cycle, Glacially fed lakes, Greenland, Holocene, Paleoclimate

Prediction of future Arctic climate and environmental changes, as well as associated ice-sheet behavior, requires placing present-day warming and reduced ice extent into a long-term context. Here we present a record of Holocene climate and glacier fluctuations inferred from the paleolimnology of small lakes near Istorvet ice cap in East Greenland. Calibrated radiocarbon dates of organic remains indicate deglaciation of the region before ~10,500 years BP, after which time the ice cap receded rapidly to a position similar to or less extensive than present, and lake sediments shifted from glacio-lacustrine clay to relatively organic-rich gyttja. The lack of glacio-lacustrine sediments throughout most of the record suggests that the ice cap was similar to or smaller than present throughout most of the Holocene. This restricted ice extent suggests that climate was similar to or warmer than present, in keeping with other records from Greenland that indicate a warm early and middle Holocene. Middle Holocene magnetic susceptibility oscillations, with a ~200-year frequency in one of the lakes, may relate to solar influence on local catchment processes. Following thousands of years of restricted extent, Istorvet ice cap advanced to within 365 m of its late Holocene limit at ~AD 1150. Variability in the timing of glacial and climate fluctuations, as well as of sediment organic content changes among East Greenland lacustrine records, may be a consequence of local factors, such as elevation, continentality, water depth, turbidity, and seabirds, and highlights the need for a detailed spatial array of datasets to address questions about Holocene climate change.