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Middle to late Holocene chironomid-inferred July temperatures for the central Northwest Territories, Canada

Abstract

We analyzed subfossil chironomids, sediment organic matter and sediment particle size data from a 1.11-m-long freeze core collected from Carleton Lake (unofficial name), located approximately 120 km north of the modern treeline. This well-dated core spans the last ca. 6,500 years. Two chironomid transfer functions were applied to infer mean July air temperatures. Our results indicated that the chironomid-inferred temperatures from this lake sediment record did not pass a significance test, suggesting that other factors in addition to temperature may have been important in structuring the chironomid community through time. Although not statistically significant, the chironomid-inferred temperatures from this site do follow a familiar pattern, with highest inferred temperatures occurring during the Holocene Thermal Maximum (~6–4 cal kyr BP), followed by a long-term cooling trend, which is reversed during the last 600 years. The largest change in the chironomid assemblage, which occurred between ca. 4,600 and 3,900 cal yr BP is possibly related to the well-documented northward advance and subsequent retreat of treeline in this region.

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Acknowledgments

Helpful comments from two anonymous reviewers, the Editors, and Rod Smith with the Geological Survey of Canada greatly improved this manuscript. Funding for this collaborative research project was provided by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) strategic project grant and Discovery Grant to RTP, an NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award to LMU and a Fonds de recherche du Québec—Nature et technologies (FQRNT) Postdoctoral Fellowship to JCV. Direct and in-kind funding was provided by the Northwest Territories Geoscience Office, Polar Continental Shelf Project, The Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (by, in part, a Cumulative Impacts and Monitoring Program award to JMG), the Geological Survey of Canada, the Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road Joint Venture (Erik Madsen and the crew of the Dome, Lockhart, and Lac de Gras maintenance camps), the North Slave Métis Alliance, and IMG Golder, Inuvik, and Golder Associates, Yellowknife. Special thanks to those involved in collection of the Carleton Lake sediment core including Robert Mercredi (North Slave Métis Alliance) and to Josh Kurek who assisted with chironomid identifications. This paper represents ESS contribution number 20120320.

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Correspondence to Jesse C. Vermaire.

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Upiter, L.M., Vermaire, J.C., Patterson, R.T. et al. Middle to late Holocene chironomid-inferred July temperatures for the central Northwest Territories, Canada. J Paleolimnol 52, 11–26 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10933-014-9775-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10933-014-9775-5

Keywords

  • Chironomids
  • Middle to late Holocene
  • Paleoclimate
  • Northwest Territories
  • Particle size analysis
  • Loss-on-ignition