Continental climate in the East Siberian Arctic during the last interglacial: implications from palaeobotanical records
|Title||Continental climate in the East Siberian Arctic during the last interglacial: implications from palaeobotanical records|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2008|
|Authors||Kienast, F, Tarasov, P, Schirrmeister, L, Grosse, G, Andreev, AA|
|Journal||Global and Planetary Change|
|Keywords||Arctic Siberia, Beringia, Laptev Sea level, last interglacial, plant macrofossils, tectonics|
To evaluate the consequences of possible future climate changes and to identify the main climate drivers in high latitudes, the vegetation and climate in the East Siberian Arctic during the last interglacial are reconstructed and compared with Holocene conditions. Plant macrofossils from permafrost deposits on Bol’shoy Lyakhovsky Island, New Siberian Archipelago, in the Russian Arctic revealed the existence of a shrubland dominated by Duschekia fruticosa, Betula nana and Ledum palustre and interspersed with lakes and grasslands during the last interglacial. The reconstructed vegetation differs fundamentally from the high arctic tundra that exists in this region today, but resembles an open variant of subarctic shrub tundra as occurring near the tree line about 350 km southwest of the study site. Such difference in the plant cover implies that, during the last interglacial, the mean summer temperature was considerably higher, the growing season was longer, and soils outside the range of thermokarst depressions were drier than today. Our pollen-based climatic reconstruction suggests a mean temperature of the warmest month (MTWA) range of 9–14.5 °C during the warmest interval of the last interglacial. The reconstruction from plant macrofossils, representing more local environments, reached MTWA values above 12.5 °C in contrast to today’s 2.8 °C. We explain this contrast in summer temperature and soil moisture with a combination of summer insolation higher than present and climatic continentality in arctic Yakutia stronger than present as result of a considerably less inundated Laptev Shelf during the last interglacial.