The role of climate in determining the ontogeny trends of low Arctic lakes, south-western Greenland
2012-11-22T10:19:39Z (GMT) by
This thesis uses palaeolimnological records to reconstruct Holocene ontogeny trends from four lakes in south western Greenland. The research addresses four hypotheses investigating how Holocene lake ontogeny trends vary under different climatic settings, how long-term changes in ontogeny relate to periods of established climatic change in the region, the similarities between proxies within the lakes and between the lakes, and the role of vegetation in lake ontogeny. The study region occupies the widest ice-free area of south western Greenland and is characterised by a climatic gradient. The area inland and nearer to the ice-margin is arid, receives less precipitation and is warmer relative to the coastal areas. A paired lake approach, using lake records from two inland lakes and two coastal lakes, was adopted to examine the role of climatic setting upon lake development trajectories. Specifically, diatoms were used to reconstruct DI-alkalinity from the lakes using a DI-alkalinity model created from existing training sets in the region (WA Cla model, r2boot = 0.76, RMSEP = 0.28 log alkalinity units), sedimentary pigments to investigate trends in production and sedimentary parameters to reconstruct organic and minerogenic accumulation rates. All four lakes experienced comparable Holocene long-term ontogeny trajectories; maximum alkalinity in the first ~ 1000 cal. year BP of deglaciation followed by maximum production during the peak of Holocene Thermal Maximum (HTM) warming (~7000 -6000 cal. years BP). Following the HTM, all lakes demonstrated oligotrophication and a decline in pH. Vegetation development and catchment stabilisation at the end of the HTM may be important in determining the onset of oligotrophication in vegetated catchments. However, the impact of vegetation development on lake ontogeny cannot be isolated from the changes in the lakes associated with the colder and wetter climate which occurred at the end of the peak HTM warming. The timings of the large transitions in the ontogeny trajectories are comparable with established periods of Holocene climatic variability in the region; climate forcing drives ontogeny in these lakes. However, there are short-term differences between the lakes indicating that lakes have different thresholds of ecological change and may respond differently to the same climate forcing. It is concluded that ontogeny is driven by climate but lakes may respond differently to forcing depending on catchment specific characteristics which can filter out the climate signal or cause climate to influence the lake in a more direct way.