Abstract

This study presents Last Interglacial and Holocene vegetation and climate changes at Fog Lake (67°11′N, 63°15′W) on eastern Baffin Island, Arctic Canada. The vegetation cover is reported as vegetation structural types (or biomes). July air temperature and sunshine during the growing season (June–July–August–September) were reconstructed from pollen assemblages using the modern analogue technique. The vegetation of the Last Interglacial period evolved from a prostrate dwarf-shrub tundra to a low- and high-shrub tundra vegetation. The succession of four Arctic biomes was distinguished from the Last Interglacial sediments, whereas only one Arctic biome was recorded in the Holocene sediments. From ca. 8300 cal. years BP to present, hemiprostrate dwarf-shrub tundra occupied the soils around Fog Lake. During the Last Interglacial, growing season sunshine was higher than during the Holocene and July air temperature was 4 to 5 °C warmer than present. A principal component analysis helped in assessing relationship between floristic gradients and climate. The major vegetation changes through the Last Interglacial and Holocene were driven by July air temperature variations, whereas the minor, or subtle, vegetation changes seem rather correlated to September sunshine. This study demonstrates that growing season sunshine conditions can be reconstructed from Arctic pollen assemblages, thus providing information on feedbacks associated with cloud cover and summer temperatures, and therefore growing season length.

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