Abstract

Dendroglaciological and lichenometric techniques are used to establish the Little Ice Age (LIA) history of two glaciers (Colonel Foster and Septimus) in Strathcona Provincial Park, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Our lichenometric investigations were preceded by the development of a locally calibrated Rhizocarpon geographicum growth curve (1708–1998 A.D.). Documentation of a 3–4-year ecesis interval for both trees and lichen greatly reduces one of the main uncertainties in using geobotanical methods for dating LIA landforms. The moraine dates provided, therefore, give a good approximation of the shift in climate conditions that lead to the retreat of the glaciers and subsequent moraine stabilization. Geobotanical evidence records three synchronous episodes of LIA moraine deposition at both glaciers: two prominent moraines at each site are dated to the early 1700s and late 1800s, with a third, smaller moraine dated to the mid 1930s. Moraines deposited prior to 1397 A.D. were also recorded at Colonel Foster Glacier; however, precise dating of these moraines was not possible. The moraine records from Strathcona Provincial Park suggest two possible modes of glacier response: (i) synchronous responses to larger-scale climatic forcing, and (ii) asynchronous responses to local factors such as microclimate, topography, and glacier geometry. The Vancouver Island LIA record was evaluated in the context of LIA results from the Pacific North American (PNA) Cordillera. It compares well with regional moraine records from coastal British Columbia, Washington, Alaska, and the Canadian Rocky Mountains, suggesting a regional response of PNA glaciers to climate change associated with the LIA.

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