a tool for elucidating past and recent climate change in marine Arctic Canada
Over the past decades, polar regions such as the Canadian Arctic Archipelago have experienced pronounced changes associated with climate warming (e.g., decreased sea ice extent and thickness). Such relatively recent environmental shifts have motivated research regarding past climate variability to understand how polar marine environments respond to changing conditions, for example glacial to interglacial transitions. This presentation outlines ongoing research that is part of a larger project (funded by ArcticNet and NSERC) focussed on the palaeoclimatology, palaeoceanography and deglacial histories of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. In particular, the use of foraminifera (benthics and planktonics) 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 focusses 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 foraminiferal surface sediment calibrations, along with the taxonomic issues associated with some important indicator taxa will be discussed.
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