Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 507–517 | Cite as

Rapid 20th century environmental change on northeastern Baffin Island, Arctic Canada inferred from a multi-proxy lacustrine record

  • Elizabeth K. ThomasEmail author
  • Yarrow Axford
  • Jason P. Briner
Original Paper


The Arctic has a disproportionately large response to changes in radiative forcing of climate, and arctic lacustrine ecosystems respond sensitively to these changes. The goal of this research is to generate high-resolution climate records for the past two millennia using multiple proxies in order to place 20th and 21st century climate and environmental change into a long-term context. We use a 14C- and 210Pb-dated surface core from Lake CF8 on northeastern Baffin Island, Arctic Canada to generate a high-resolution multiproxy reconstruction of climate and environmental change. Throughout the late Holocene, primary productivity in Lake CF8 was low, but increased almost 20-fold in the past 200 years. Insect (Chironomidae) assemblages also show dramatic changes since 1950 AD, with cold stenothermous chironomid taxa disappearing from the record altogether. These changes in productivity and chironomid assemblages are unprecedented in the past 5,000 years. The dramatic ecological shifts that occurred at Lake CF8 have also been observed elsewhere in the Arctic, and will likely continue at ever-increasing rates as anthropogenic inputs of green house gases continue to cause climate warming and enhanced lacustrine primary production.


Chironomids Climate change Late Holocene Anthropocene Arctic Lake sediments Paleolimnology 



We thank Neal Michelutti for assistance in the field, Jamesee Qillaq and other Inuit of Clyde River for logistical support, Gifford Miller for advice and assistance in developing the coring system, Donna Francis for the use of her modern training set data as well as help with chironomid identification, Jocelyn Turnbull for the preparation of materials for radiocarbon dating, David Harris for the stable isotope analyses, Jack Cornett and Janice Lardner for the 210Pb analyses, Darrell Kaufman and Caleb Schiff for biogenic silica analyses and Jason Szymanski for assistance in the UB Paleoclimate Lab. We appreciate the licensing and logistical support provided by the Nunavut Research Institute and the National Science Foundation (VECO Polar Resources). This manuscript was made stronger by the helpful advice of two anonymous reviewers. This research is a contribution to the ongoing NSF-ARCSS 2 kyr Synthesis Project, NSF Grant ARC-0455024.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth K. Thomas
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yarrow Axford
    • 1
  • Jason P. Briner
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeologyUniversity at BuffaloBuffaloUSA

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