Abstract

Cores from site HLY0501-05 on the Alaskan margin in the eastern Chukchi Sea were analyzed for their geochemical (organic carbon, δ13Corg, Corg/N, and CaCO3) and palynological (dinocyst, pollen, and spores) content to document oceanographic changes during the Holocene. The chronology of the cores was established from 210Pb dating of near-surface sediments and 14C dating of bivalve shells. The sediments span the last 9000 years, possibly more, but with a gap between the base of the trigger core and top of the piston core. Sedimentation rates are very high (∼156 cm/ka), allowing analyses with a decadal to centennial resolution. The data suggest a shift from a dominantly terrigenous to marine input from the early to late Holocene. Dinocyst assemblages are characterized by relatively high concentrations (600–7200 cysts/cm3) and high species diversity, allowing the use of the modern analogue technique for the reconstruction of sea-ice cover, summer temperature, and salinity. Results indicate a decrease in sea-ice cover and a corresponding, albeit much smaller, increase in summer sea-surface temperature over the past 9000 years. Superimposed on these long-term trends are millennial-scale fluctuations characterized by periods of low sea-ice and high sea-surface temperature and salinity that appear quasi-cyclic with a frequency of about one every 2500–3000 years. The results of this study clearly show that sea-ice cover in the western Arctic Ocean has varied throughout the Holocene. More importantly, there have been times when sea-ice cover was less extensive than at the end of the 20th century.

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