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Late glacial and Holocene sedimentation, vegetation, and climate history from easternmost Beringia (northern Yukon Territory, Canada)

  • Michael Fritz (a1), Ulrike Herzschuh (a1) (a2), Sebastian Wetterich (a1), Hugues Lantuit (a1), Gregory P. De Pascale (a3), Wayne H. Pollard (a4) and Lutz Schirrmeister (a1)...

Beringian climate and environmental history are poorly characterized at its easternmost edge. Lake sediments from the northern Yukon Territory have recorded sedimentation, vegetation, summer temperature and precipitation changes since ~ 16 cal ka BP. Herb-dominated tundra persisted until ~ 14.7 cal ka BP with mean July air temperatures ≤ 5°C colder and annual precipitation 50 to 120 mm lower than today. Temperatures rapidly increased during the Bølling/Allerød interstadial towards modern conditions, favoring establishment of Betula-Salix shrub tundra. Pollen-inferred temperature reconstructions recorded a pronounced Younger Dryas stadial in east Beringia with a temperature drop of ~ 1.5°C (~ 2.5 to 3.0°C below modern conditions) and low net precipitation (90 to 170 mm) but show little evidence of an early Holocene thermal maximum in the pollen record. Sustained low net precipitation and increased evaporation during early Holocene warming suggest a moisture-limited spread of vegetation and an obscured summer temperature maximum. Northern Yukon Holocene moisture availability increased in response to a retreating Laurentide Ice Sheet, postglacial sea level rise, and decreasing summer insolation that in turn led to establishment of Alnus-Betula shrub tundra from ~ 5 cal ka BP until present, and conversion of a continental climate into a coastal-maritime climate near the Beaufort Sea.

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