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A late Quaternary paleotemperature record from Hanging Lake, northern Yukon Territory, eastern Beringia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Joshua Kurek*
Department of Biology, University of New Brunswick, PO Box 4400, Fredericton, NB, E3B 5A3 Canada
Les C. Cwynar
Department of Biology, University of New Brunswick, PO Box 4400, Fredericton, NB, E3B 5A3 Canada
Jesse C. Vermaire
Department of Biology, McGill University, Canada
Corresponding author.

E-mail (J. Kurek), (L.C. Cwynar), (J.C. Vermaire).


The late Quaternary paleoclimate of eastern Beringia has primarily been studied by drawing qualitative inferences from vegetation shifts. To quantitatively reconstruct summer temperatures, we analyzed lake sediments for fossil chironomids, and additionally we analyzed the sediments for fossil pollen and organic carbon content. A comparison with the δ18O record from Greenland indicates that the general climatic development of the region throughout the last glaciation–Holocene transition differed from that of the North Atlantic region. Between ∼ 17 and 15 ka, mean July air temperature was on average 5°C colder than modern, albeit a period of near-modern temperature at ∼ 16.5 ka. Total pollen accumulation rates ranged between ∼ 180 and 1200 grains cm− 2 yr− 1. At ∼ 15 ka, approximately coeval with the Bølling interstadial, temperatures again reached modern values. At ∼ 14 ka, nearly 1000 yr after warming began, Betula pollen percentages increased substantially and mark the transition to shrub-dominated pollen contributors. Chironomid-based inferences suggest no evidence of the Younger Dryas stade and only subtle evidence of an early Holocene thermal maximum, as temperatures from ∼ 15 ka to the late Holocene were relatively stable. The most recognizable climatic oscillation of the Holocene occurred from ∼ 4.5 to 2 ka.

Research Article
University of Washington

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