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Warm to Cold Polar Climate Transitions Over the Last 15,000 Years: A Paleoclimatology Record from the Raised Beaches of Northern Norway

FLETCHER, CHARLES H., University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, RHODES H. FAIRBRIDGE, NASA-Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, NY, JACOB K. MLLER, University of Tromso, Tromso, Norway, and ANTONY J. LONG, University of Durham, Durham, England

Because of the strength of the cold, dry arctic high pressure vortex, and the absence of multiple air-mass sources, climate records from the polar region tend to display a cleaner signal than those from mid-latitude settings. The high arctic presents unique opportunities for the prediction of the natural background pattern of climate change prior to the disturbances generated by manmade atmospheric pollutants.

The Varanger Peninsula of northernmost Norway was extensively depressed by an ice dome during the last glacial stage. Deglaciation was accompanied by isostatic recovery at a steady though exponentially decaying rate. Superimposed on the rising land is a discontinuous staircase of cobble beach ridges, deposited during the postglacial period by storms at the coast. The ridges are constructed during brief episodes of weather- and tide-related elevation of sea level and wave run-up. Storminess periods can only occur in the absence of sea ice associated with several decades of mild, relatively warm temperatures.

A history of local relative sea level is constructed from over 70 radiocarbon dates of various water-level indicators. The sea-level history is used to construct a chronology of beach-ridge building that documents the cyclic, aperiodic nature of arctic storminess conditions. We date a dynamic signal with multiple climate transitions from warm, stormy conditions to cool, calm conditions occurring roughly every 200 years between 15,000 years ago to 10,000 years ago. Throughout the Holocene the climate is more settled with longer periods separating the major warm to cool transitions.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91004 © 1991 AAPG Annual Convention Dallas, Texas, April 7-10, 1991 (2009)