A Tool for Elucidating Past and Recent Climate Change in Marine Arctic Canada

  • Rabecca Thiessen MacEwan University


Over the past decades, polar regions such as the Canadian Arctic Archipelago have experienced pronounced changes associated with recent climate warming, such as sea ice decline. Such relatively recent environmental shifts have motivated research regarding past climate variability to understanding how polar marine environments respond to changing conditions, such as glacial to interglacial transitions. This presentation will outline ongoing research that is part of a larger project funded by ArcticNet and NSERC focussed on the palaeoclimate, palaeoceanography and deglacial histories of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. In particular, the use of foraminifera (microfossils) is highlighted as a proxy for reconstructing past environmental conditions via assemblage and geochemical (δ13C and δ18O) analyses, including water temperatures, sea ice conditions, and ecosystem productivity, in the eastern (Lancaster Sound/Baffin Bay) and western (M’Clure Strait) entrances to the historical Northwest Passage. To allow for accurate interpretations of past environments, ongoing work also focuses on foraminiferal distribution in surface (modern) sediments in relation to measured oceanographic parameters (temperature, salinity, sea ice) as a baseline for paleo-interpretations. Preliminary results from microfossil surface sediment calibrations, along with the taxonomic issues associated with some important indicator taxa will be discussed.

Discipline: Biological Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Anna Pienkowski