Lateglacial and Holocene isotopic and environmental history of northern coastal Alaska – Results from a buried ice-wedge system at Barrow

Meyer, Hanno, Schirrmeister, Lutz, Andreev, Andrei, Wagner, Dirk, Hubberten, Hans-W., Yoshikawa, Kenji, Bobrow, Anatoly, Wetterich, Sebastian, Opel, Thomas, Kandiano, Evgeniya and Brown, Jerry (2010) Lateglacial and Holocene isotopic and environmental history of northern coastal Alaska – Results from a buried ice-wedge system at Barrow Quaternary Science Reviews, 29 (27-28). pp. 3720-3735. DOI 10.1016/j.quascirev.2010.08.005. Date online first: 28 September 2010

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Abstract

Barrow, the northernmost point in Alaska, is one of the most intensively studied areas in the Arctic. However, paleoenvironmental evidence is limited for northern Alaska for the Lateglacial-Holocene transition. For a regional paleoenvironmental reconstruction, we investigated a permafrost ice-wedge tunnel near Barrow, Alaska. The studied site was first excavated in the early 1960s and intercepts a buried ice-wedge system at 3e6 m depth below the surface. A multi-methodological approach was applied to this buried ice-wedge system and the enclosing sediments, which in their combination, give new insight into the Late Quaternary environmental and climate history. Results of geochronological, sedimentological, cryolithological, paleoecological, isotope geochemical and microbiological studies reflect different stages of mid to late Wisconsin (MW to LW), Allerød (AD), Younger Dryas (YD), Preboreal (PB), and Late Holocene paleoenvironmental evolution. The LWage of the site is indicated by AMS dates in the surrounding sediments of 21.7 kyr BP at the lateral contact of the ice-wedge system as well as 39.5 kyr BP below the ice-wedge system. It is only recently that in this region, stable isotope techniques have been employed, i.e. to characterize different types of ground ice. The stable isotope record (oxygen: δ18O; hydrogen: δD) of two intersecting ice wedges suggests different phases of the northern Alaskan climate history from AD to PB, with radiocarbon dates from 12.4 to 9.9 kyr BP (ranging from 14.8 to 10.6 kyr cal BP). Stable isotope geochemistry of ice wedges reveals winter temperature variations of the Lateglacial-Holocene transition including a prominent YD cold period, clearly separated from the warmer AD and PB phases. YD is only weakly developed in summer temperature indicators (such as pollen) for the northern Alaska area, and by consequence, the YD cold stadial was here especially related to the winter season. This highlights that the combination of winter and summer indicators comprehensively describes the seasonality of climate-relevant processes in discrete time intervals. The stable isotope record for the Barrow buried ice-wedge system documents for the first time winter climate change at the Lateglacial-Holocene transition continuously and at relatively high (likely centennial) resolution.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Paleoceanography; Climatology; Barrow (Alaska), Last Glacial-to-Holocene climate history, temperature reconstructions; QUATERNARY POLLEN RECORDS; LABOR AMS FACILITY; THAW LAKE BASINS; YOUNGER DRYAS; NORTHWESTERN ALASKA; VEGETATION HISTORY; SPATIAL-ANALYSIS; STABLE-ISOTOPES; HYDROGEN; OXYGEN
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-P-OZ Paleo-Oceanography
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2010.08.005
ISSN: 0277-3791
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2010 11:27
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2016 08:24
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/9887

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