Palaeoceanographic changes in Hornsund Fjord (Spitsbergen, Svalbard) over the last millennium: new insights from ancient DNA

  • publication
  • 01-08-2015

J Pawłowska, M Zajączkowski, M Łącka, F Lejzerowicz, P Esling, J Pawlowski. Climate of the Past Discussions 11, 3665-3698; 10.5194/cpd-11-3665-2015

This paper presents a reconstruction of climatedriven environmental changes over the last millennium in Hornsund Fjord (Svalbard), based on sedimentological and micropalaeontological records. Our palaeo-investigation was supported by an analysis of foraminiferal ancient DNA (aDNA), focusing on the non-fossilized monothalamous species. The main climatic fluctuations during the last millennium were the Medieval Warm Period (MWP, AD 1000– 1600), the Little Ice Age (LIA, AD 1600–1900) and the modern warming (MW, AD 1900 to present). Our study indicates that the environmental conditions in Hornsund during the MWP and the early LIA (before ∼ AD 1800) were relatively stable. The beginning of the LIA (∼ AD 1600) was poorly evidenced by the micropalaeontological record but was well marked in the aDNA data by an increased proportion of monothalamous foraminifera, especially Bathysiphon sp. The early LIA (∼ 1600 to ∼ AD 1800) was marked by an increase in the abundance of sequences of Hippocrepinella hirudinea and Cedhagenia saltatus. In the late LIA (after ∼ AD 1800), the conditions in the fjord became glacierproximal and were characterized by increased meltwater out- flows, high sedimentation and a high calving rate. This coincided with an increase in the percentages of sequences of Micrometula sp. and Vellaria pellucidus. During the MW, the major glacier fronts retreated rapidly to the inner bays, which limited the iceberg discharge to the fjord’s centre and caused a shift in the foraminiferal community that was reflected in both the fossil and aDNA records.

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