Articles | Volume 13, issue 6
Clim. Past, 13, 587–611, 2017

Special issue: Climate–carbon–cryosphere interactions in the...

Clim. Past, 13, 587–611, 2017

Research article 06 Jun 2017

Research article | 06 Jun 2017

Ground-ice stable isotopes and cryostratigraphy reflect late Quaternary palaeoclimate in the Northeast Siberian Arctic (Oyogos Yar coast, Dmitry Laptev Strait)

Thomas Opel1,a, Sebastian Wetterich1, Hanno Meyer1, Alexander Y. Dereviagin2, Margret C. Fuchs3, and Lutz Schirrmeister1 Thomas Opel et al.
  • 1Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Periglacial Research Section, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
  • 2Geology Department, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, 119992, Russia
  • 3Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology, 09599 Freiberg, Germany
  • anow at: Department of Geography, Permafrost Laboratory, University of Sussex, Brighton, BN1 9RH, UK

Abstract. To reconstruct palaeoclimate and palaeoenvironmental conditions in the northeast Siberian Arctic, we studied late Quaternary permafrost at the Oyogos Yar coast (Dmitry Laptev Strait). New infrared-stimulated luminescence ages for distinctive floodplain deposits of the Kuchchugui Suite (112.5 ± 9.6 kyr) and thermokarst-lake deposits of the Krest Yuryakh Suite (102.4 ± 9.7 kyr), respectively, provide new substantial geochronological data and shed light on the landscape history of the Dmitry Laptev Strait region during Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5. Ground-ice stable-isotope data are presented together with cryolithological information for eight cryostratigraphic units and are complemented by data from nearby Bol'shoy Lyakhovsky Island. Our combined record of ice-wedge stable isotopes as a proxy for past winter climate conditions covers about 200 000 years and is supplemented by stable isotopes of pore and segregated ice which reflect annual climate conditions overprinted by freezing processes. Our ice-wedge stable-isotope data indicate substantial variations in northeast Siberian Arctic winter climate conditions during the late Quaternary, in particular between glacial and interglacial times but also over the last millennia to centuries. Stable isotope values of ice complex ice wedges indicate cold to very cold winter temperatures about 200 kyr ago (MIS7), very cold winter conditions about 100 kyr ago (MIS5), very cold to moderate winter conditions between about 60 and 30 kyr ago, and extremely cold winter temperatures during the Last Glacial Maximum (MIS2). Much warmer winter conditions are reflected by extensive thermokarst development during MIS5c and by Holocene ice-wedge stable isotopes. Modern ice-wedge stable isotopes are most enriched and testify to the recent winter warming in the Arctic. Hence, ice-wedge-based reconstructions of changes in winter climate conditions add substantial information to those derived from paleoecological proxies stored in permafrost and allow a distinction between seasonal trends of past climate dynamics. Future progress in ice-wedge dating and an improved temporal resolution of ice-wedge-derived climate information may help to fully explore the palaeoclimatic potential of ice wedges.

Short summary
We studied late Quaternary permafrost at the Oyogos Yar coast (Dmitry Laptev Strait) to reconstruct palaeoclimate and palaeonvironmental conditions in the Northeast Siberian Arctic. Our ice-wedge stable isotope record, combined with data from Bol'shoy Lyakhovsky Island, indicates coldest winter temperatures during MIS5 and MIS2, warmest conditions during the Holocene, i.e. today, and non-stable winter climate during MIS3. New IRSL ages reveal high climate variability during MIS5.