Little Ice Age recorded in summer temperature reconstruction from vared sediments of Donard Lake, Baffin Island, Canada


Clastic varved sediments from Donard Lake, in the Cape Dyer region of Baffin Island, provide a 1250 yr record of decadal-to-centennial scale climate variability. Donard Lake experiences strong seasonal fluctuations in runoff and sediment fluxes due to the summer melting of the Caribou Glacier, which presently dominates its catchment. The seasonal variation in sediment supply results in the annual deposition of laminae couplets. A radiocarbon date measured on moss fragments, with a calibrated age of 860 ± 80 yrs before present (BP), is in close agreement with the age based on paired-layer counts. Together with the fabric of the laminae determined from microscope analysis, the age agreement demonstrates that the laminae couplets are annually deposited varves. Comparisons of varve thickness and average summer temperature from nearby Cape Dyer show a significant positive correlation (r= 0.57 for annual records, r = 0.82 for 3-yr averages), indicating that varve thickness reflects changes in average summer temperature. Varve thickness was used to reconstruct average summer temperatures for the past 1250 yrs, and shows abrupt shifts and large amplitude decadal-to-centennial scale variability throughout the record. The most prominent feature of the record is a period of elevated summer temperatures from 1200-1375 AD, followed by cooler conditions from 1375-1820 AD, coincident with the Little Ice Age.

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Moore, J., Hughen, K., Miller, G. et al. Little Ice Age recorded in summer temperature reconstruction from vared sediments of Donard Lake, Baffin Island, Canada. Journal of Paleolimnology 25, 503–517 (2001) doi:10.1023/A:1011181301514

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  • paleoclimate
  • varved sediments
  • Little Ice Age
  • Baffin Island