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Woody vegetation, fuel and fire track the melting of the Scandinavian ice-sheet before 9500 cal yr BP

  • Christopher Carcaillet (a1) (a2), Greger Hörnberg (a3) and Olle Zackrisson (a4)

New studies indicate the presence of early Holocene ice-free areas far north in Scandinavia. Post-glacial fire and vegetation were investigated based on sedimentary charcoal and pollen from two small lakes in northern Sweden. Accumulation of organic sediment started around 10,900 and 9200 cal yr BP, showing that both lake valleys were ice-free extremely early given their northerly location. Fire events started after 9600 cal yr BP and became less common around the ‘8.2-ka event’. Woody vegetation provided fuel that contributed to fires. The first vegetation in our pollen record consisted of Hippophae, Dryas, grasses and sedges. Subsequently broadleaved trees (Betula, Salix) increased in abundance and later Pinus, Alnus, ferns and Lycopodium characterized the vegetation. Pollen from Larix, Picea and Malus were also found. The change in vegetation composition was synchronous with the decrease in lake-water pH in the region, indicating ecosystem-scale processes; this occurred during a period of net global and regional warming. The changes in fire frequency and vegetation appear independent of regional trends in precipitation. The reconstructed fire history and vegetation support the scenario of early ice-free areas far north in Scandinavia during early Holocene warming, creating favorable conditions for woody plants and wildfires.

Corresponding author
Corresponding author at: Centre for Bio-Archaeology and Ecology (UMR5059 CNRS), Université Montpellier 2, Institut de Botanique, 163 rue Broussonet, 34090 Montpellier, France. Email Address:
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