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Paleolimnological Reconstruction of Holocene Climatic Trends from Two Boreal Treeline Lakes, Northwest Territories, Canada

Reinhard Pienitz, John P. Smol and Glen M. MacDonald
Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research
Vol. 31, No. 1 (Feb., 1999), pp. 82-93
DOI: 10.2307/1552625
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1552625
Page Count: 12
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Paleolimnological Reconstruction of Holocene Climatic Trends from Two Boreal Treeline Lakes, Northwest Territories, Canada
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Abstract

Paleolimnological analyses of two lakes located near the northern treeline in the central part of the Canadian Northwest Territories document a history of abrupt postglacial climatic and limnological changes. A diatom-based transfer function, based on weighted-averaging partial least squares regression (WA-PLS) techniques, was used to give quantitative estimates of past trends in lakewater dissolved organic carbon (DOC), a limnological variable strongly aligned with catchment vegetation and soils. The diatom record from the sediment cores provides evidence for profound limnologic change during the mid-Holocene, corresponding to maximum forest-tundra development between 5000 and 3000 14C yr BP in both Queen's and Toronto lakes, with a diatom-inferred relative change in lakewater DOC of up to 5.8 mg L-1 between the mid-Holocene and the present-day. Comparison of the diatom-inferred environmental changes with other proxy data (pollen, stable isotopes) from the same lakes provides strong evidence for an episode of climatic amelioration and lake responses to the associated vegetational changes (from tundra to forest-tundra) at sites near the central Canadian treeline. This study illustrates the usefulness of diatoms as quantitative indicators of past climate-related environmental change in northern treeline regions, and implies that aquatic ecosystems at high latitudes might respond with extreme sensitivity to climate warming.

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