Skip to main content

Late Pleistocene Climates of Beringia, Based on Analysis of Fossil Beetles

  • Scott A. Elias (a1)

Thirty-one fossil beetle assemblages from central and eastern Beringia (Alaska, the Yukon Territory, and the now-submerged Bering Land Bridge) have yielded seasonal temperature estimates for the interval 43,550–9250 14C yr before present (yr B.P.). Estimates of the mean temperature of the warmest (TMAX) and coldest (TMIN) months were derived by the Mutual Climatic Range method. Assemblages from northern and western sites show a mid-Wisconsin interstadial TMAX warming from 35,000–30,000 yr B.P.; this warming is less pronounced in assemblages for interior regions. There is little or no beetle evidence for the spread of coniferous forest in eastern Beringia during this interstade, except for in parts of the Yukon Territory. During the last glacial maximum TMAX values were depressed by about 2°–2.5°C in Arctic regions of Beringia, and by about 4°C in the interior; TMIN values were about 8°C colder in both regions. TMAX and TMIN values rose rapidly at northern sites after 12,000 yr B.P. Seasonal temperatures peaked at 11,000 yr B.P., just as the Bering Land Bridge was inundated. This was followed by a sharp climatic cooling between 11,000 and 10,000 yr B.P., the equivalent of a Younger Dryas cooling in eastern Beringia.

Hide All
Atkinson, T.C., Briffa, K.R., Coope, G.R., (1987). Seasonal temperatures in Britain during the past 22,000 years, reconstructed using beetle remains. Nature 325, 587592.
Anderson, P.M., Bartlein, P.J., Brubaker, L.B., Gajewski, K., Ritchie, J.C., (1989). Modern analogues of late-Quaternary pollen spectra from the western interior of North America. Journal of Biogeography 16, 573596.
Anderson, P.M., Brubaker, L.B., (1994). Vegetation history of north central Alaska: A mapped summary of late-Quaternary pollen data. Quaternary Science Reviews 13, 7192.
Anderson, P.M., Lozhkin, A.V., (2000). The Stage 3 interstadial complex (Karginskii/Middle Wisconsin interval) of Beringia: Variations in paleoenvironments and implications for paleoclimatic interpretations. Quaternary Science Reviews .
Bartlein, P.J., Anderson, P.M., Edwards, M.E., McDowell, P.F., (1991). A framework for interpreting paleoclimatic variations in Eastern Beringia. Quaternary International 10–12, 7383.
Berger, A.L., (1978). Long-term variations in caloric insolation resulting from the earth's orbital elements. Quaternary Research 9, 139167.
Betancourt, J.L., Long, A., Donahue, D.J., Jull, A.J.T., Zabel, T.H., (1984). Pre-Columbian age for North American Corispermum L. (Chenopodiaceae) confirmed by accelerator radiocarbon dating. Nature 311, 653655.
Bigelow, N.H., Edwards, M.E., (2000). A 14,000 yr paleoenvironmental record from Windmill Lake, central Alaska: Late-glacial and Holocene vegetation in the Alaska Range. Quaternary Science Reviews .
Broccoli, A.J., Manabe, S., (1987). The effects of the Laurentide ice sheet on Norm American climate during the last glacial maximum. Géographie physique et Quaternaire 41, 291299.
Broecker, W., Peteet, D., Rind, D., (1985). Does the ocean–atmosphere system have more than one stable mode of operation. Nature 315, 2126.
Coope, G.R., (1977). Fossil Coleopteran assemblages as sensitive indicators of climatic changes during the Devensian (Last) cold stage. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B 280, 313340.
Coope, G.R., (1986). Coleoptera analysis. Berglund, B.E., Handbook of Holocene Palaeoecology and Palaeohydrology Wiley, New York.703713.
Dansgaard, W., White, J.W.C., Johnson, S.J., (1989). The abrupt termination of the Younger Dryas climate event. Nature 339, 532534.
Duplessy, J.C., Labeyrie, L.D., Paterne, M., (1996). North Atlantic sea surface conditions during the Younger Dryas cold event. Andrews, J.T., Austin, W.E.N., Bergsten, H., Jennings, A.E., Late Quaternary Palaeoceanography of the North Atlantic Margins 167175.
Elias, S.A., (1992). Late Quaternary beetle faunas of Southwestern Alaska: Evidence of a refugium for mesic and hygrophilous species. Arctic and Alpine Research 24, 133144.
Elias, S.A., (2000). Mutual Climatic Range reconstructions of seasonal temperatures based on late Pleistocene fossil beetle assemblages in Eastern Beringia. Quaternary Science Reviews .
Elias, S.A., (1999). Mid-Wisconsin seasonal temperatures reconstructed from fossil beetle assemblages in eastern North America: Comparisons with other proxy records from the Northern Hemisphere. Journal of Quaternary Science 14, 255262.
Elias, S.A., Short, S.K., Nelson, C.H., Birks, H.H., (1996). Life and times of the Bering land bridge. Nature 382, 6063.
Elias, S.A., Anderson, K.H., Andrews, J.T., (1996). Late Wisconsin climate in northeastern USA and southeastern Canada, reconstructed from fossil beetle assemblages. Journal of Quaternary Science 11, 417421.
Elias, S.A., Andrews, J.T., Anderson, K.H., (1999). Insights on the climatic constraints on the beetle fauna of coastal Alaska, U.S.A, derived from the Mutual Climatic Range method of paleoclimate reconstruction. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research 31, 9498.
Goetcheus, V.G., Birks, H.H., (2000). Full-glacial upland tundra vegetation preserved under tephra in the Beringia National Park, Seward Peninsula, Alaska. Quaternary Science Reviews .
Guthrie, R.D., (1990). Frozen Fauna of the Mammoth Steppe. The Story of Blue Babe. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Hamilton, T.D., (1982). A late Pleistocene glacial chronology for the southern Brooks Range: Stratigraphic record and regional significance. Geological Society of America Bulletin 93, 700716.
Hopkins, D.M., Giterman, R.E., Matthews, J.V. Jr., (1976). Interstadial mammoth remains and associated pollen and insect fossils, Kotzebue Sound area, northwestern Alaska. Geology 4, 169172.
Hughes, O.L., Harrington, C.R., Janssens, J.A., Matthews, J.V. Jr., Morlan, R.E., Rutter, , Schweger, C.E., (1981). Upper Pleistocene stratigraphy, paleoecology and archaeology of northern Yukon interior, eastern Beringia: 1. Bonnet Plume Basin. Arctic 34, 329365.
Lea, P.D., Elias, S.A., Short, S.K., (1991). Stratigraphy and paleoenvironments of Pleistocene nonglacial units in the Nushagak Lowland, Southwestern Alaska. Arctic and Alpine Research 23, 375391.
Lozhkin, A.V., Anderson, P.M., Eisner, W.R., Ravako, L.G., Hopkins, D.M., Brubaker, L.B., Colinvaux, P.A., Miller, M.C., (1993). Late Quaternary lacustrine pollen records from southwestern Beringia. Quaternary Research 39, 314324.
MacDonald, G.M., Edwards, T.W.D., Moser, K.A., Pienitz, R., Smol, J.P., (1993). Rapid response of treeline vegetation and lakes to past climate warming. Nature 361, 243246.
Matthews, J.V. Jr., (1968). A paleoenvironmental analysis of three Late Pleistocene coleopterous assemblages from Fairbanks, Alaska. Quaestiones Entomologicae 4, 202224.
Matthews, J.V. Jr., (1974). Quaternary environments at Cape Deceit (Seward Peninsula, Alaska): Evolution of a tundra ecosystem. Geological Society of America Bulletin 85, 13531384.
Matthews, J.V. Jr., (1974). Wisconsin environment of interior Alaska: Pollen and macrofossil analysis of a 26 meter core from the Isabella Basin (Fairbanks, Alaska). Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 11, 828841.
Matthews, J. V. Jr., (1975). Incongruence of macrofossil and pollen evidence: A case from the Late Pleistocene of the northern Yukon coast.. Geological Survey of Canada Paper 75-1B, pp. 139146..
Matthews, J. V. Jr., Schweger, C. E., Hughes, O. L., (1989). Climatic change in Eastern Beringia during oxygen isotope stages 2 and 3: Proposed thermal events. U.S.. Geological Survey Circular 1026, pp. 3438..
Matthews, J.V. Jr., Schweger, C.E., Janssens, J.A., (1990). The Last (Koy-Yukon) interglaciation in the northern Yukon: Evidence from Unit 4 at Ch'ijee's Bluff, Bluefish Basin. Géographie physique et Quaternaire 44, 341362.
Matthews, J.V. Jr., Schweger, C.E., Hughes, O.L., (1990). Plant and insect fossils from the Mayo Indian Village section (Central Yukon): New data on middle Wisconsinan environments and glaciation. Géographie physique et Quaternaire 44, 1526.
Matthews, J.V. Jr., Telka, A., (1997). Insect fossils from the Yukon. Danks, H.V., Downes, J.A., Insects of the Yukon 911962.
Mayewski, P.A., Meeker, L.D., Whitlow, S., Twickler, M.S., Morrison, , (1993). The atmosphere during the Younger Dryas. Science 261, 195196.
Nelson, R.E., (1982). Late Quaternary Environments of the Western Arctic Slope, Alaska. University of Washington, .
Nelson, R.E., Carter, L.D., (1987). Paleoenvironmental analysis of insects and extralimital Populus from an early Holocene site on the Arctic Slope of Alaska. Arctic and Alpine Research 19, 230241.
Nelson, R.E., Carter, L.D., Robinson, S.W., (1988). Anomalous radiocarbon ages from a Holocene detrital organic lens in Alaska, and their implications for radiocarbon dating and paleoenvironmental research in the arctic. Quaternary Research 29, 6671.
Overpeck, J., Hughen, K., Hardy, D., Bradley, R., Case, R., Douglas, M., Finney, B., Gajewski, K., Jacoby, G., Jennings, A., Lamoreux, S., Lasca, A., MacDonald, G., Moore, J., Retelle, M., Smoth, S., Wolfe, A., Zielinski, G., (1997). Arctic environmental change of the last four centuries. Science 278, 12511256.
Peteet, D.M., Mann, D.H., (1994). Late-glacial vegetational, tephra, and climatic history of southwestern Kodiak Island, Alaska. Ecoscience 1, 255267.
Ponel, P., (1995). Rissian, Eemian and Würmian Coleoptera assemblages from La Grand Pile (Vosges, France). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 114, 141.
Rind, D., (1987). Components of the Ice Age circulation. Journal of Geophysical Research 92, 42414281.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Quaternary Research
  • ISSN: 0033-5894
  • EISSN: 1096-0287
  • URL: /core/journals/quaternary-research
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed