Lacustrine records of continental climate in northwest Greenland through the Holocene and Last Interglacial
Abstract:Lake sediment records provide opportunities for high-resolution observations of paleoclimate that help to place modern climate change in geologic context. Here we present a terrestrial record of July air temperature for northwest Greenland (Nunatarssuaq, ~25 km east of the Thule Air Base) through the Holocene and a prior warm period, inferred from subfossil insect remains (Chironomidae) preserved in lacustrine sediments. In addition, we discuss ongoing work in characterizing the sources and isotopic composition of leaf waxes preserved in the same sediments.
Multiple parallel sediment cores were collected in the summers of 2012 and 2014 from Wax Lips Lake (informal name), a non-glacial lake situated <2 km from the current margin of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Radiocarbon ages were obtained on aquatic mosses from intact laminae, and indicate that the record spans the Holocene, beginning at ~10.4 ka, as well as an interval beyond the range of 14C (>44 ka) and thus predates the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Our results demonstrate temperatures warmer than present through the early and mid Holocene followed by cooling in the late Holocene.
Material that pre-dates the LGM contains insect assemblages indicating temperatures warmer than the warmest millennia of the Holocene. We interpret this material as most likely dating to the Last Interglacial Period (MIS 5). Along with assemblages of Chironomidae, we find subfossil Chaoboridae in one section of the pre-LGM sediments, suggesting exceptionally warm conditions based upon the distribution of modern-day Chaoborus. We find abundant n-alkanes and n-acids are preserved in the Holocene and pre-LGM sediments, allowing for complementary compound-specific δD analyses and identification of organic matter source in addition to chironomid derived temperature records.