Five thousand years of sediment transfer in a high arctic watershed recorded in annually laminated sediments from Lower Murray Lake, Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada

Cook, T.L., Bradley, R.S., Stoner, J.S. and Francus, P. 2009; Journal of Paleolimnology 41: 77-94


Sediments in Lower Murray Lake, northern Ellesmere Island, Nunavut Canada (81°21′ N, 69°32′ W) contain annual laminations (varves) that provide a record of sediment accumulation through the past 5000+ years. Annual mass accumulation was estimated based on measurements of varve thickness and sediment bulk density. Comparison of Lower Murray Lake mass accumulation with instrumental climate data, long-term records of climatic forcing mechanisms and other regional paleoclimate records suggests that lake sedimentation is positively correlated with regional melt season temperatures driven by radiative forcing. The temperature reconstruction suggests that recent temperatures are ~2.6°C higher than minimum temperatures observed during the Little Ice Age, maximum temperatures during the past 5200 years exceeded modern values by ~0.6°C, and that minimum temperatures observed approximately 2900 varve years BC were ~3.5°C colder than recent conditions. Recent temperatures were the warmest since the fourteenth century, but similar conditions existed intermittently during the period spanning ~4000–1000 varve years ago. A highly stable pattern of sedimentation throughout the period of record supports the use of annual mass accumulation in Lower Murray Lake as a reliable proxy indicator of local climatic conditions in the past.