Holocene temperature shifts around Greenland: Paleolimnological approaches to quantifying past warmth and documenting its consequences
Abstract:Insolation-driven warmth across the Arctic during the early to middle Holocene (the Holocene Thermal Maximum, or HTM) represents a geologically accessible analog for future warming and its impacts. Improved constraints on the magnitude and seasonality of HTM warmth around Greenland’s margins can advance the use of paleoclimate data to test and improve climate and ice sheet models. Here we present an overview of our recent efforts to reconstruct climate through the Holocene around the margins of the Greenland Ice Sheet using multiple proxies in lake sediments.
We use insect (chironomid) assemblages to derive quantitative estimates of Holocene temperatures at sites with minimal soil and vegetation development near the eastern, northwestern and western margins of the ice sheet. Our chironomid-based temperature reconstructions consistently imply HTM July air temperatures 3 to 4.5 °C warmer than the pre-industrial late Holocene in these sectors of Greenland. The timing of reconstructed peak warmth differs between sites, with onset varying from ~10 ka to ~6.5 ka, but in good agreement with glacial geology and other evidence from each region. Our reconstructed temperature anomalies are larger than those typically inferred from annually-integrated indicators from the ice sheet itself, but comparable to the few other quantitative summer temperature estimates available from beyond the ice sheet on Greenland. Additional records are needed to confirm the magnitude of HTM warmth and to better define its seasonality and spatial pattern. To provide independent constraints on paleotemperatures and to elucidate additional aspects of Holocene paleoclimate, we are also employing oxygen isotopes of chironomid remains and other aquatic organic materials, and molecular organic proxies, in parallel (see Lasher et al. and McFarlin et al., this meeting). Combined with glacial geologic evidence, these multi-proxy records elucidate diverse aspects of HTM climate around Greenland – including temperature, hydroclimate, and the response of Greenland’s glaciers to past climate change.