Holocene glacier activity reconstructed from proglacial lake
Gjøavatnet on Amsterdamøya, NW Svalbard
Well-dated and highly resolved paleoclimate records from high latitudes allow for a better understanding of past climate change. Lake sediments are excellent archives of environmental change, and can record processes occurring within the catchment, such as the growth or demise of an upstream glacier. Here we present a Holocene-length, multi-proxy lake sediment record from proglacial lake Gjøavatnet on the island of Amsterdamøya, northwest Svalbard. Today, Gjøavatnet receives meltwater from the Annabreen glacier and contains a record of changes in glacier activity linked to regional climate conditions. We measured changes in organic matter content, dry bulk density, bulk carbon isotopes, elemental concentrations via Itrax core-scanning, and diatom community composition to reconstruct variability in glacier extent back through time. Our reconstruction indicates that glacially derived sedimentation in the lake decreased markedly at ∼11.1 cal kyr BP, although a glacier likely persisted in the catchment until ∼8.4 cal kyr BP. During the mid-Holocene (∼8.4–1.0 cal kyr BP) there was significantly limited glacial influence in the catchment and enhanced deposition of organic-rich sediment in the lake. The deposition of organic rich sediments during this time was interrupted by at least three multi-centennial intervals of reduced organic matter accumulation (∼5.9–5.0, 2.7–2.0, and 1.7–1.5 cal kyr BP). Considering our chronological information and a sedimentological comparison with intervals of enhanced glacier input, we interpret these intervals not as glacial advances, but rather as cold/dry episodes that inhibited organic matter production in the lake and surrounding catchment. At ∼1.0 cal kyr BP, input of glacially derived sediment to Gjøavatnet abruptly increased, representing the rapid expansion of the Annabreen glacier.
Authors: de Wet, Gregory A., Balascio, Nicholas L., D'Andrea, William J., Bakke, Jostein, Bradley, Raymond S., Perren, Bianca