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Heightened sensitivity of a poorly buffered high arctic lake to late-Holocene climatic change

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Neal Michelutti*
Affiliation:
Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Lab (PEARL), Department of Biology, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6 Department of Geology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 3B1
Marianne S.V. Douglas
Affiliation:
Department of Geology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 3B1
Alexander P. Wolfe
Affiliation:
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2E3
John P. Smol
Affiliation:
Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Lab (PEARL), Department of Biology, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6
*
*Corresponding author. Fax: +1 416 978 3938. E-mail address:michelutti@geology.utoronto.ca (N. Michelutti).

Abstract

A diatom-based paleolimnological investigation was conducted on late Holocene sediments from a poorly buffered lake, informally named “Rock Basin Lake”, on Ellesmere Island, Arctic Canada. The fossil diatom record is unlike any other obtained thus far from high arctic regions, exhibiting dynamic assemblage shifts over the entire ∼3300 yr sedimentary record. Multiple proxies (i.e., diatoms, pH reconstructions, biogenic silica, C/N ratios, total organic carbon) appear to sensitively track rapid limnological changes, which are associated with distinct climate intervals as inferred from other regional proxy records. The highly responsive nature of the diatom assemblages in Rock Basin Lake, relative to those recorded from nearby alkaline sites, appears to be related to this lake's limited ability to buffer changes in pH. The dynamic species responses suggest that the diatoms in Rock Basin Lake are faithfully tracking climatic changes, and that low-alkalinity lakes may provide the most sensitive diatom-based paleolimnological records from high arctic regions.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
University of Washington

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