Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 193–207 | Cite as

Leaf wax δ2H and varve-thickness climate proxies from proglacial lake sediments, Baffin Island, Arctic Canada

  • Elizabeth K. ThomasEmail author
  • Sean McGrane
  • Jason P. Briner
  • Yongsong Huang
Original paper


We present a multiproxy paleoclimate record using leaf wax hydrogen isotopes (δ2Hwax) and varve thickness from Arctic proglacial lake sediments. We also provide one of the first evaluations of the utility of δ2Hwax as a paleoclimate proxy in Arctic proglacial lakes. We compare varve thickness and δ2Hwax at sub-decadal resolution from 1948 to 2004 AD, and at sub-centennial resolution from 1450 to 2004 AD. Varve thickness and δ2Hwax both contain large interannual variability and are anti-correlated during the late twentieth century, suggesting that both proxies respond rapidly, but by different mechanisms, to catchment-scale forcings. At longer time scales, varve thickness exhibits a strong response to Little Ice Age cooling (1661–1827 AD in this record) but does not show evidence for twentieth century warming recorded throughout the Arctic. δ2Hwax does record regional-scale temperature changes, with more 2H-depleted values during the Little Ice Age and an abrupt change to more 2H-enriched values in the twentieth century. This corresponds well with a recent Arctic-wide temperature reconstruction in which the seventeenth century is the coldest interval, and the twentieth century is the warmest interval. Our results suggest that δ2Hwax is a promising proxy that can be applied at high resolution in proglacial Arctic lakes.


Arctic climate Baffin Island Biomarker Compound-specific isotopes Holocene Leaf wax Proglacial lake Varve 



We thank N. Young, J. Qillaq, S. Gearhard, M. Badding, and N. Michelutti for help in the field. We also thank J. Qillaq for information about modern Ayr Lake conditions. We thank M. Ketterer, R. Tarozo, J. Tierney, and D. Murray for their help in the lab. S. Gearhard, G. Liston and participants in the Silalirijiit Project graciously provided us with their weather station data. We thank D. Kaufman (editor) and three reviewers for helpful comments. Funding for this project was provided to JPB by NSF ARC-0909334 and to YH by NSF EAR-0902805. EKT was supported by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. SM’s varve thickness research was funded in part by a grant from the University at Buffalo Mark Diamond Research Fund.

Supplementary material

10933_2012_9584_MOESM1_ESM.tif (5.4 mb)
A. Hydrogen isotope ratios for all n-alkanoic acids analyzed in Ayr Lake sediments. Average 1σ error for all replicate isotope analyses for each compound is shown in the key. B. Chromatogram of the acid fraction of a sample extracted from lamination #55 in core 09AYR2, with prominent peaks labeled. C. Scatter plots of δ2HC26 versus other n-alkanoic acids in the same samples. The δ2HC26 is significantly correlated with all other measured chain lengths (TIFF 5555 kb)
10933_2012_9584_MOESM2_ESM.tif (5.7 mb)
A. Ayr Lake varve thickness for each core, plotted by core depth. Correlation between cores, accomplished by matching marker beds, is shown with fine black lines. Gray line is annual; black line is 10-year running mean. B. Ayr Lake varve thickness for each core, plotted by varve number. Marker beds are now aligned, shown with fine vertical black lines. Horizontal black lines are average varve thickness for the interval of overlap between cores. C. Correlation between varve thickness in different cores for interval of overlap. All intervals are correlated with a high significance level (TIFF 5872 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth K. Thomas
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sean McGrane
    • 2
  • Jason P. Briner
    • 2
  • Yongsong Huang
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geological SciencesBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeologyUniversity at BuffaloBuffaloUSA

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