Original Article

Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 17-35

First online:

Vegetation responses to rapid climatic changes during the last deglaciation 13,500–8,000 years ago on southwest Andøya, arctic Norway

  • Ingelinn AarnesAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of BergenBjerknes Centre for Climate Research Email author 
  • , Anne E. BjuneAffiliated withBjerknes Centre for Climate ResearchUni Bjerknes Centre
  • , Hilary H. BirksAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of BergenBjerknes Centre for Climate Research
  • , Nicholas L. BalascioAffiliated withClimate System Research Center, Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts
  • , Jostein BakkeAffiliated withBjerknes Centre for Climate ResearchDepartment of Earth Science, University of Bergen
  • , Maarten BlaauwAffiliated withSchool of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, Queen’s University Belfast

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The late-glacial vegetation development in northern Norway in response to climate changes during the Allerød, Younger Dryas (YD), and the transition to the Holocene is poorly known. Here we present a high-resolution record of floral and vegetation changes at lake Lusvatnet, south-west Andøya, between 13500 and 8000 cal b.p. Plant macrofossil and pollen analyses were done on the same sediment core and the proxy records follow each other very closely. The core has also been analyzed using an ITRAX XRF scanner in order to check the sediment sequence for disturbances or hiatuses. The core has a good radiocarbon-based chronology. The Saksunarvatn tephra fits very well chronostratigraphically. During both the Allerød and the Younger Dryas time-periods arctic vegetation prevailed, dominated by Salix polaris associated with many typically arctic herbs such as Saxifraga cespitosa, Saxifraga rivularis and Oxyria digyna. Both periods were cold and dry. Between 12450 and 12250 cal b.p. during the Younger Dryas chronozone, the assemblage changed, particularly in the increased abundance of Papaver sect. Scapiflora and other high-Arctic herbs, suggesting the development of polar desert vegetation mainly as a response to increased aridity. After 11520 cal b.p. a gradually warmer and more oceanic climate initiated a succession to dwarf-shrub vegetation and the establishment of Betula woodland after 1,000 years at c. 10520 cal b.p. The overall late-glacial aridity contrasts with oceanic conditions in southern Norway and is probably related to sea-ice extent.


Macrofossils Pollen Northern Norway Arctic vegetation Late-glacial aridity