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The records of glaciation and climate change preserved in sediments on the Canadian and northwest Greenland margins of Baffin Bay pertaining to the last interglacial-glacial transition are remarkably similar. In both regions, warmer than present terrestrial and nearshore marine facies of the last interglacial sensu stricto (s.s.) are overlain by glacial sediments that represent the most extensive advance of continental ice during the last glaciation. Chronometric controls (14C, thermoluminescence, amino acids) indicate an isotope stage 5 age for this advance. Evidence for extensive high-latitude glacial erosion during stage 5 is recorded by abundant pre-Quaternary palynomorphs in Baffin Bay sediment cores, in contrast to a much reduced flux during the remainder of the last glaciation. Warm nearshore marine conditions (seasonally ice free) also occurred near the end of stage 5 along both the eastern Baffin Island and northwest Greenland coasts after the maximum glacial advance; surface water in central Baffin Bay apparently was dominated by meltwater at this time. Subsequently (isotope stages 4, 3, and 2), terrestrial conditions were colder and drier, sea-surface temperatures were lower, and ice margins were retracted. Minimum summer insolation at high latitudes, coupled with mild winters and vigorous meridional oceanic (and presumably atmospheric) circulation characterized the inception phase of the last glaciation during isotope stage 5. In contrast, the 20 ka B.P. (isotope stage 2) “last glacial maximum” was characterized by a zonal circulation regime that resulted in cold and dry conditions over Baffin Bay; the margins of the northwest Greenland and northeast Laurentide ice sheets did not extend beyond the fiords at this time.

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