Potential analogues for paleoclimatic variations in eastern interior Alaska during the past 14,000 yr: atmospheric-circulation controls of regional temperature and moisture responses

Edwards, Mary E., Mock, Cary J., Finney, Bruce P., Barber, Valerie A. and Bartlein, Patrick J. (2001) Potential analogues for paleoclimatic variations in eastern interior Alaska during the past 14,000 yr: atmospheric-circulation controls of regional temperature and moisture responses. Quaternary Science Reviews, 20, (1-3), 189-202. (doi:10.1016/S0277-3791(00)00123-2).


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The paleoclimatic history of a region can be viewed as a series of surface temperature and moisture anomalies through time. The effects of changes in large-scale climatic controls (e.g., insolation, major circulation controls) can be mediated by the influence of smaller-scale controls (e.g., topographic barriers, coastlines); this may result in heterogenous surface climatic responses at the regional and sub-regional scale. Divergent paleoclimatic trajectories between regions may be explainable in terms of such meso-scale patterns. Using modern analogues for paleoclimate we examine how the sequence of climatic variations in eastern interior Alaska during the interval 12,000–0 14C yr BP could have been generated by specific atmospheric circulation patterns. Fossil-pollen and lake-level records document the long-term trends in temperature and effective moisture for the region. Water-balance modelling provides additional estimates of paleoprecipitation. Synoptic climatological patterns are described using the modern (instrumental) record of upper-level and sea-level pressure, surface temperature, and precipitation. At 12,000 14C yr BP, eastern interior Alaska was cooler and drier than present, a situation generated today by a southward displacement of the jet stream. Conditions warmer and drier than present at 9000 14C yr BP may have been generated by increased ridging north of Alaska and a weakened westerly circulation. Warmer, wetter conditions than present possibly prevailed in the late-middle Holocene; these might reflect ridging over Alaska and troughing further west. Cool, wet conditions feature enhanced westerly flow into Alaska through an eastward shift in the east Asian trough and positive pressure anomalies in the North Pacific; they may be analogous to cold periods of the Little Ice Age. The analogues demonstrate how surface conditions in other parts of Beringia may sometimes be similar to, while at other times different from those in the eastern interior. These broader spatial patterns provide hypotheses about past climates that can be tested with paleoclimatological data. For example, the widespread positive temperature anomalies associated with the warm/dry (9000 14C yr BP) analogue fit with the expansion northward of the eastern Siberian treeline. The anomalously cool conditions in northeast Siberia associated with the warm/wet analogue may explain the continued (late-middle Holocene) treeline advance in Alaska while there was retreat in Siberia.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1016/S0277-3791(00)00123-2
Additional Information: This novel approach developed modern synoptic analogues for past climatic conditions as indicated by Holocene paleodata. Four midsummer temperature-moisture anomalies were considered; these represent hypotheses that can be tested with model simulations and further palaeodata compilations. I developed the comparison idea and wrote the paper; Bartlein developed the analogue concept.
ISSNs: 0277-3791 (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: palaeoclimate, Alaska, Beringia, climate variations, pollen analysis
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Geography > Environmental Processes and Change
ePrint ID: 35375
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
2 January 2001Published
Date Deposited: 15 May 2006
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:03
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/35375

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