Articles | Volume 10, issue 4
Clim. Past, 10, 1605–1631, 2014
Clim. Past, 10, 1605–1631, 2014

Research article 29 Aug 2014

Research article | 29 Aug 2014

Arctic Holocene proxy climate database – new approaches to assessing geochronological accuracy and encoding climate variables

H. S. Sundqvist1,2, D. S. Kaufman3, N. P. McKay3, N. L. Balascio4, J. P. Briner5, L. C. Cwynar6, H. P. Sejrup7, H. Seppä8, D. A. Subetto9,10,11, J. T. Andrews12, Y. Axford13, J. Bakke7,14, H. J. B. Birks15,16,17, S. J. Brooks18, A. de Vernal19, A. E. Jennings12, F. C. Ljungqvist2,20, K. M. Rühland21, C. Saenger22, J. P. Smol21, and A. E. Viau23 H. S. Sundqvist et al.
  • 1Department of Physical Geography & Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 3School of Earth Sciences & Environmental Sustainability, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, USA
  • 4Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, New York, USA
  • 5Department of Geology, University at Buffalo, New York, USA
  • 6Department of Biology, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, Canada
  • 7Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
  • 8Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  • 9Northern Water Problems Institute, Karelian Research Center, Russian Academy of Sciences, Petrozavodsk, Russia
  • 10Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia, Saint Petersburg, Russia
  • 11Kazan Federal University, Kazan, Russia
  • 12Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA
  • 13Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, Northwestern University, Illinois, USA
  • 14Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
  • 15Department of Biology, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
  • 16Environmental Change Research Centre, University College London, UK
  • 17School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, London, UK
  • 18Department of Life Sciences, Natural History Museum, London, UK
  • 19GEOTOP, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montreal, Canada
  • 20Department of History, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 21Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Lab (PEARL), Department of Biology, Queen's University, Ontario, Canada
  • 22Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, University of Washington, Seattle, USA
  • 23Department of Geography, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada

Abstract. We present a systematic compilation of previously published Holocene proxy climate records from the Arctic. We identified 170 sites from north of 58° N latitude where proxy time series extend back at least to 6 cal ka (all ages in this article are in calendar years before present – BP), are resolved at submillennial scale (at least one value every 400 ± 200 years) and have age models constrained by at least one age every 3000 years. In addition to conventional metadata for each proxy record (location, proxy type, reference), we include two novel parameters that add functionality to the database. First, "climate interpretation" is a series of fields that logically describe the specific climate variable(s) represented by the proxy record. It encodes the proxy–climate relation reported by authors of the original studies into a structured format to facilitate comparison with climate model outputs. Second, "geochronology accuracy score" (chron score) is a numerical rating that reflects the overall accuracy of 14C-based age models from lake and marine sediments. Chron scores were calculated using the original author-reported 14C ages, which are included in this database. The database contains 320 records (some sites include multiple records) from six regions covering the circumpolar Arctic: Fennoscandia is the most densely sampled region (31% of the records), whereas only five records from the Russian Arctic met the criteria for inclusion. The database contains proxy records from lake sediment (60%), marine sediment (32%), glacier ice (5%), and other sources. Most (61%) reflect temperature (mainly summer warmth) and are primarily based on pollen, chironomid, or diatom assemblages. Many (15%) reflect some aspect of hydroclimate as inferred from changes in stable isotopes, pollen and diatom assemblages, humification index in peat, and changes in equilibrium-line altitude of glaciers. This comprehensive database can be used in future studies to investigate the spatio-temporal pattern of Arctic Holocene climate changes and their causes. The Arctic Holocene data set is available from NOAA Paleoclimatology.