Climatic Change

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 121–134

Historical evidence and climatic implications of a shift in the boreal forest tundra transition in central Canada

  • Timothy F. Ball
Article

Abstract

The line that marks the boundary between the boreal forest and the tundra regions is a relatively abrupt line in central Canada and appears to reflect a clearly defined climate boundary. Research suggests that relatively small changes in the climatic conditions should result in a movement of the treeline. Such a movement was apparently reported in 1772 by Samuel Hearne based upon the observations of generations of Indians who had lived in the area. A map of his voyages indicates a tree limit that was further west in the north/south section of western Canada and further south in the east/west section of central Canada. This location and subsequent movement appears to be logical in relation to the climatic conditions that occurred in the region as a result of the Little Ice Age and the warmer conditions thereafter.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Alt, B. T.: 1978, ‘Synoptic Climate Controls of Mass-Balance Variations on Devon Island Ice Cap’, Arctic and Alpine Research 1, 61–80.Google Scholar
  2. Atkinson, K.: 1981, ‘Vegetation Zonation in the Canadian Subarctic’, Area 15, 13–17.Google Scholar
  3. Axelrod, D.: 1981, ‘Holocene Climatic Changes in Relation to Vegetation Disjunction and Speciation’, American Naturalist 117, 847–870.Google Scholar
  4. Ball, T. F.: 1982, ‘Climatic Change in Central Canada: A Preliminary Analysis of Weather Information from the Hudson's Bay Company Forts at York Factory and Churchill Factory, 1714–1850’. Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of London.Google Scholar
  5. Ball, T. F.: 1984, ‘A Dramatic Change in the General Circulation on the West Coast of Hudson Bay in 1760 A.D.: Synoptic Evidence Based on Historic Records’, in C. R. Harington (ed.), Syllogeus Vol. 5 National Museum of Canada.Google Scholar
  6. Ball, T. F. and Kingsley, R. G.: 1984, ‘Instrumental Temperature Records at Two Sites in Central Canada: 1768 to 1910’, Climatic Change 6, 39–56.Google Scholar
  7. Barry, R. G.: 1967, ‘Seasonal Location of the Arctic Front over North America’, Geographical Bulletin 9, 79–95.Google Scholar
  8. Barry, R. G., Bradley, R. S., and Jacobs, J. D.: 1975, ‘Synoptic Climatological Studies of the Baffin Island Area’, in G. Weller and S. A. Bowlings (eds.), Climate of the Arctic, Harper and Rowe, New York, p. 428.Google Scholar
  9. Blasing, T. and Fritts, H. C.: 1976, ‘Past Climate of Alaska and Northwestern Canada as Reconstructed from Tree Rings’, in G. Weller and S. A. Bowlings (eds.), Climate of the Arctic, Harper and Rowe, New York, p. 428.Google Scholar
  10. Brinkmann, W. A. R. and Barry, R. G.: 1972, ‘Paleoclimatological Aspects of the Synoptic Climatology of Keewatin, Northwest Territories, Canada’, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, and Palaeoecology 11, 77–91.Google Scholar
  11. Bryson, R. A.: 1966, ‘Air Masses, Streamlines, and the Boreal Forest’, Geographical Bulletin 8, 228–269.Google Scholar
  12. Cropper, J. P. and Fritts, H. C.: 1981, ‘Tree-ring Width Chronologies from the North American Arctic’, Arctic and Alpine Research 13, 245–260.Google Scholar
  13. Dey, B.: 1973, Synoptic Climatological Aspects of Summer Dry Spells in the Canadian Prairies, Ph.D. Dissertation, Dept. of Geography, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon.Google Scholar
  14. Elliott, D. L.: 1979, ‘The Regenerative Capacity of the Northern Canadian Trees, Keewatin, N.W.T. Canada: Some Preliminary Observations’, Arctic and Alpine Research 11, 243–251.Google Scholar
  15. Elliott-Fisk, D. L.: 1983, ‘The Stability of the Northern Canadian Tree Limit’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers 73, 560–576.Google Scholar
  16. Fritts, H. C., Blasing, T., Hayden, B. P., and Kutzbach, J. E.: 1971, ‘Multivariate Techniques for Specifying Tree-Growth and Climate Relationships and for Reconstructing Anomalies in Paleoclimate’. Journal of Applied Meteorology 10, 845–864.Google Scholar
  17. Garfinkel, H. L. and Brubaker, H. I.: 1980, ‘Modern Climate-Tree-Growth Relationships and Climatic Reconstruction in Sub-arctic Alaska’, Nature 286, 872–874.Google Scholar
  18. Hearne, S.: 1772, A Journey from Prince of Wales Fort in Hudson's Bay to the Northern Oceans in the Years 1769, 1770, 1771, and 1772, The Champlain Society Publication No. VI, Published in 1911, Toronto, p. 437.Google Scholar
  19. Hustich, I.: 1979, ‘Ecological Concepts and Biogeographical Zonation in the North: The Need for a Generally Accepted Terminology’, Holarctic Ecology 2, 208–217.Google Scholar
  20. Hustich, I.: 1983, ‘Tree-line and Tree Growth Studies During 50 Years; Some Subjective Observations’, in P. Morisset and S. Payette (eds.), Tree-Line Ecology, Centre d'etudes nordiques. Universite Laval No. 47, 181–188.Google Scholar
  21. Jacoby, G. C. Jr.: 1983, ‘A Dendroclimatic Study in the Forest-Tundra Ecotone on the East Shore of Hudson Bay’, in P. Morisset and S. Payette (eds.), Tree-Line Ecology, Centre d'etudes nordiques. Universite Laval No. 47. 95–99.Google Scholar
  22. Kay, P. A.: 1979, ‘Multivariate Statistical Estimates of Holocene Vegetation and Climate Change, Forest-Tundra Transition Zone, NWT, Canada’, Quaternary Research 11, 125–140.Google Scholar
  23. Kay, P. A. and Andrews, J. T.: 1983, ‘Re-evaluation of Pollen-Climate Transfer Functions in Keewatin, Northern Canada’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers 73, 550–559.Google Scholar
  24. Lamb, H. H.: 1977, Climate Present Past and Future. Vol. II. Climatic History and the Future, Methuen & Co., London, p. 835.Google Scholar
  25. Lamb, H. H.: 1982, Climate History and the Modern World, Methuen & Co., London, p. 387.Google Scholar
  26. Lamb, H. H. and Johnson, A. I.: 1959, ‘Secular Variation of the Atmospheric Circulation since 1750’, Geografiska Annaler 41, 94–133.Google Scholar
  27. Larsen, J. A.: 1965, ‘The Vegetation of the Ennadai Lake area, N.W.T.: Studies in Subarctic and Arctic Bioclimatology’, Ecological Monographs 35, 37–59.Google Scholar
  28. Larsen, J. A.: 1974, ‘The Forest-Tundra Ecotone’, in J. D. Ives and R. G. Barry (eds.), Arctic and Alpine Environments, London, Methuen, p. 437.Google Scholar
  29. Locke, C. W. and Locke, W. W., III: 1977, ‘Little Ice Age Snow-cover Extent and Paleoglaciation Thresholds: North-Central Baffin Island, N.W.T., Canada’, Arctic and Alpine Research 10 247–260.Google Scholar
  30. Nichols, H.: 1967, ‘The Post-Glacial History of Vegetation and Climate at Ennadai Lake, Keewatin and Lynn Lake, Manitoba (Canada)’, Eiszeitalter und Gegenwart 18, 176–197.Google Scholar
  31. Nichols, H.: 1975, ‘Palynological and Paleoclimatic study of the Late Quarternary displacement of the Boreal Forest-Tundra Ecotone in Keewatin and Mackenzie, N.W.T., Canada’, University of Colorado Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, Occasional Paper, 15.Google Scholar
  32. Nichols, H.: 1976, ‘Historical Aspects of the Northern Canadian Treeline’, Arctic 29, 38–47.Google Scholar
  33. Olmura, A.: 1983, ‘Climate and Energy Balance on the Arctic Tundra’, Journal of Climatology 2, 65–84.Google Scholar
  34. Parker, M. L., Jozsa, L. A., Johnson, S. G., and Bramhall, P. A.: 1981, Dendrochronological Studies of the Coasts of James Bay and Hudson Bay (Parts 1 and 2), in C. R. Harington (ed.), Syllogeus No. 33 Climatic Change in Canada, National Museums of Canada, 129–188.Google Scholar
  35. Payette, S.: 1983, ‘The Forest Tundra and Present Tree-Lines of the Northern Quebec-Labrador Peninsula’, in P. Morisset and S. Payette (eds.), Tree-Line Ecology, Center d'etudes nordiques, Universite Laval No. 47, 3–24.Google Scholar
  36. Payette, S., Filion, L., Gauthier, L., and Boutin, V.: 1985, ‘Secular Climate Change in Old-Growth Tree-line Vegetation of Northern Quebec’, Nature 315, 135–138.Google Scholar
  37. Ritchie, J. C.: 1957, ‘The Vegetation of Northern Manitoba II. A Prisere on the Hudson Bay Lowlands’, Ecology 38, 429–435.Google Scholar
  38. Ritchie, J. C.: 1982, ‘The Modern and Late-Quaternary Vegetation of the Doll Creek Area, North Yukon, Canada’, New Phytologist 90, 563–603.Google Scholar
  39. Ritchie, J. C., and Hare, F. K.: 1971, ‘Late Quaternary Vegetation and Climate Near the Arctic Tree Line of Northwestern North America’, Quaternary Research 1, 331–342.Google Scholar
  40. Rowe, J. S.: 1972, Forest Regions of Canada, Canadian Forestry Service Publication No. 1300. Ottawa, p. 172.Google Scholar
  41. Rouse, W.: 1981, ‘Microclimate of Low Arctic Tundra and Forest at Churchill, Manitoba’, 4th Canadian Permafrost Conference Calgary Alberta, 68–80.Google Scholar
  42. Saville, D. B.: 1972, ‘Arctic Adaptations in Plants’ Canada, Department of Agriculture, Monograph No. 6.Google Scholar
  43. Sorenson, C. J., Knox, J. C., Larsen, J. A., and Bryson, R. A.: 1971, ‘Paleosols and the Forest Border in Keewatin, N.W.T.’, Quaternary Research 1, 468–473.Google Scholar
  44. Sorenson, C. J. and Knox, J. C.: 1974, ‘Paleosols and Paleoclimates Related to Late Holocene Forest/Tundra Border Migrations: MacKenzie and Keewatin, N.W.T. Canada’, International Conference on Prehistory and Paleoecology of Western North American Arctic and Subarctic, Calgary Archaeological Association. 187–203.Google Scholar
  45. Thomson, K.: 1980, ‘Forests and Climate Change: Some Early Views’, Climatic Change 3, 47–64.Google Scholar
  46. Tukhanen, S.: 1984, ‘A circumboreal system of climatic-phytogeographical regions’ Acta Botanica Fennica 127, 1–50.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Timothy F. Ball
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of WinnipegWinnipegCanada

Personalised recommendations