Sediment cores from 13 lakes in a 1500 km transect along the eastern North American Arctic contain up to four superposed stratified interglacial units. All 13 lakes contain one unit with sediment similar in character and mass to Holocene gyttja, with 14C ages >40 ka, luminescence ages 90 to 120 ka, and pollen assemblages that require nearly complete Laurentide deglaciation, supporting a Last Interglacial (LIG; MIS 5e) age. Two lakes preserve an older interglacial, with luminescence ages suggesting an MIS 7 age. Four adjacent lakes record a thin, stratified organic unit between the LIG and Holocene units with 14C ages >50 ka, that is probably from late in MIS 5. Temperature estimates from biotic proxies suggest LIG summer temperatures 4–6°C above mid-20th century values; pollen, chironomids and DNA document a poleward expansion of woody plants and invertebrate species during the LIG, supporting arguments that positive feedbacks native to the Arctic amplified insolation-driven summer temperature increases. The stratigraphic succession implies the Laurentide Ice Sheet remained intact with sea level below -40 m from ~115 ka to ~11 ka, and places new constraints on the interpretation of cosmogenic radionuclide inventories in erratic boulders older than the Holocene throughout this region.
- Arctic amplification
- Baffin Island
- Last Interglacial
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)