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TERRESTRIAL RESPONSES TO HOLOCENE CLIMATIC FORCING – EXAMPLES FROM N/NW ICELAND

CASELDINE, CHRIS  University of Exeter, UK.
Langdon, Pete  University of Exeter, UK.
Holmes, Naomi  University of Exeter, UK.

Understanding Holocene climatic change relies on an ability to both identify and interpret variations in proxy records which can be attributed solely to climatic forcing. These records come from a variety of sources that have different forms and rates of response, usually closely linked to threshold conditions and the resilience of the organism/community to change. Examples are used from terrestrial sites in N and NW Iceland to demonstrate the way in which forcing affected ecosystem responses over the Early to Middle Holocene. Periods of significant vegetation change indicated from pollen evidence are compared to chironomid-based temperature reconstructions and placed within the broader regional context by comparison with offshore records of sea-surface temperature. Particular attention is paid to a number of ‘snapshots’ of Holocene time – before and after the deposition of the Saksunarvatn tephra (9.6-8.6 14C yr BP), a period of vegetation retrogression ca 8.5 14C yr BP, and the establishment of ‘optimal’ birch woodland, an event which appears to have been diachronous across N Iceland. Implications of the results are considered for use of vegetation change as an indicator of climatic change in Iceland emphasising the importance of using other proxies such as chironomids, where regional calibration against climate appears feasible, as demonstrated in accompanying posters.


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