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Tree-ring derived Little Ice Age temperature trends from the central British Columbia Coast Mountains, Canada


Most glaciers in the British Columbia Coast Mountains reached their maximum Holocene extent during the Little Ice Age. Early- and late-Little Ice Age intervals of expansion and retreat fluctuations describe a mass-balance response to changing climates. Although existing dendroclimatic records provide insights into these climatic fluctuations over the last 400 yr, their short durations prohibit evaluation of early-Little Ice Age climate variability. To extend the duration of these records, submerged coarse woody debris salvaged from a high-elevation lake was cross-dated to living chronologies. The resulting chronology provides the opportunity to reconstruct a regional June–July air-temperature anomaly record extending from AD 1225 to 2010. The reconstruction shows that the intervals AD 1350–1420, 1475–1550, 1625–1700 and 1830–1940 characterized distinct periods of below-average June–July temperature followed by periods of above-average temperature. Our reconstruction provides the first annually resolved insights into high-elevation climates spanning the Little Ice Age in this region and indicates that Little Ice Age moraine stabilization corresponds to persistent intervals of warmer-than-average temperatures. We conclude that coarse woody debris submerged in high-elevation lakes has considerable potential for developing lengthy proxy climate records, and we recommend that researchers focus attention on this largely ignored paleoclimatic archive.

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