Paleoecological evidence for abrupt cold reversals during peak Holocene warmth on Baffin Island, Arctic Canada

Yarrow Axford*, Jason P. Briner, Gifford H. Miller, Donna R. Francis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


A continuous record of insect (Chironomidae) remains preserved in lake sediments is used to infer temperature changes at a small lake in Arctic Canada through the Holocene. Early Holocene summers at the study site were characterized by more thermophilous assemblages and warmer inferred temperatures than today, presumably in response to the positive anomaly in Northern Hemisphere summer insolation. Peak early Holocene warmth was interrupted by two cold reversals between 9.5 and 8 cal ka BP, during which multiple cold-stenothermous chironomid taxa appeared in the lake. The earlier reversal appears to correlate with widespread climate anomalies around 9.2 cal ka BP; the age of the younger reversal is equivocal but it may correlate with the 8.2 cal ka BP cold event documented elsewhere. Widespread, abrupt climate shifts in the early Holocene illustrate the susceptibility of the climate system to perturbations, even during periods of enhanced warmth in the Northern Hemisphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-149
Number of pages8
JournalQuaternary Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2009


  • Abrupt climate change
  • Arctic
  • Chironomidae
  • Holocene
  • Midges
  • Paleoclimate
  • Paleolimnology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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