Future climate change will have significant effects on ecosystems worldwide and on polar regions in particular. Hence, palaeo-environmental studies focussing on the last warmer-than-today phase (i.e. the early Holocene) in higher latitudes are of particular importance to understand climate development and its potential impact in polar systems. Molluscan bivalve shells constitute suitable bio-archives for high-resolution palaeo-environmental reconstructions. Here, we present a first reconstruction of early Holocene seasonal water temperature cycle in an Arctic fjord based on stable oxygen isotope (δ18Oshell) profiles in shells of Arctica islandica (Bivalvia) from raised beach deposits in Dicksonfjorden, Svalbard, dated at 9954–9782 cal. yr BP. Reconstructed maximum and minimum bottom water temperatures for the assumed shell growth period between April and August of 15.2°C and 2.8°C imply a seasonality of about 12.4°C for the early Holocene. In comparison to modern temperatures, this indicates that average temperature declined by 6°C and seasonality narrowed by 50%. This first palaeo-environmental description of a fjord setting during the Holocene Climate Optimum at Spitsbergen exceeds most previous global estimates (+1–3°C) but confirms studies indicating an amplified effect (+4–6°C) at high northern latitudes.
AWI Organizations > Biosciences > Functional Ecology
AWI Organizations > Graduate Research Schools > ESSReS