Northern boreal peatlands are major terrestrial sinks of organic carbon and these ecosystems, which are highly sensitive to human activities and climate change, act as sensitive archives of past environmental change at various timescales. This study aims at understanding how the climate changes of the last 1000 years have affected peatland vegetation dynamics in the boreal region of Alberta in western Canada. Peat cores were collected from five bogs in the Fort McMurray region (56â57Â° N), at the southern limit of sporadic permafrost, and two in central Alberta (53Â° N and 55Â° N) outside the present-day limit of permafrost peatlands. The past changes in vegetation communities were reconstructed using detailed plant macrofossil analyses combined with high-resolution peat chronologies (14C, atmospheric bomb-pulse14C,210Pb and cryptotephras). Peat humification proxies (C/N, H/C, bulk density) and records of pH and ash content were also used to improve the interpretation of climate-related vegetation changes. Our study shows important changes in peatland vegetation and physical and chemical peat properties during the Little Ice Age (LIA) cooling period mainly from around 1700 CE and the subsequent climate warming of the 20th century. In some bogs, the plant macrofossils have recorded periods of permafrost aggradation during the LIA with drier surface conditions, increased peat humification and high abundance of ericaceous shrubs and black spruce (Picea mariana). The subsequent permafrost thaw was characterized by a short-term shift towards wetter conditions (Sphagnum sect. Cuspidata) and a decline in Picea mariana. Finally, a shift to a dominance of Sphagnum sect. Acutifolia (mainly Sphagnum fuscum) occurred in all the bogs during the second half of the 20th century, indicating the establishment of dry ombrotrophic conditions under the recent warmer and drier climate conditions.
|Titolo:||Impact of the Little Ice Age cooling and 20th century climate change on peatland vegetation dynamics in central and northern Alberta using a multi-proxy approach and high-resolution peat chronologies|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2018|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||01.01 Articolo in Rivista|