Holocene temperature and landscape history of southwest Greenland inferred from isotope and geochemical lake sediment proxies

TitleHolocene temperature and landscape history of southwest Greenland inferred from isotope and geochemical lake sediment proxies
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsG. Lasher, E, Axford, Y, Masterson, AL, Berman, K, Larocca, LJ
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Date PublishedJan-07-2020
KeywordsChironomids, glaciers, Greenland, Isolation basins, lake sediments, oxygen isotopes, Paleotemperatures, Stable isotopes

Terrestrial temperature reconstructions from the ice-free margins of Greenland are critical for constraining the sensitivity of the Greenland ice sheet to past climate change. Numerous investigations have clarified the glacial history of southwest Greenland in recent decades; however, very few local quantitative temperature reconstructions exist as context for changes in the cryosphere. We examine sedimentary records from two lakes south of Nuuk, Greenland (informally named lakes T1 and T2), and investigate millennial scale Holocene climate change using a multi-proxy approach. Changes in X-Ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF), δ15N, δ13C and biogenic silica concentrations of bulk lake sediments mark the transition from a marine environment to isolated lakes as relative sea level fell in the early Holocene. δ18O values of subfossil insects (chironomids) from lakes T1 and T2 decreased by 2–3‰ from c. 8.8 ka BP (minimum limiting age for the onset of lacustrine sediment deposition in lake T2; ka BP = thousands of years before 1950) to 1 ka BP. Existing isotope-independent temperature reconstructions from the west coast of Greenland suggest that these changes in δ18O values accompanied gradual cooling of 2–4 °C, concomitant with decreasing summer insolation. There is widespread regional evidence that this cooling resulted in progressive regrowth of local glaciers and of the ice sheet. The regional consensus on the magnitude of this temperature change indicates that the local, modern modeled temperature - precipitation δ18O relationship cannot be used to quantify millennial-scale temperature changes at these sites through the Holocene. This reinforces that studies utilizing δ18O-based proxies to infer temperature change should carefully assess local isotope-temperature relationships over space and time.