Permafrost evidence for severe winter cooling during the Younger Dryas in northern Alaska



[1] The Younger Dryas cold event, a rapid reversion to glacial climate conditions at the Pleistocene-Holocene transition, has generally been attributed to the release of meltwater from the Laurentide Ice Sheet to the North Atlantic or Arctic oceans. The reaction of the North Pacific region to this “shutdown” of the thermohaline circulation in the North Atlantic during Younger Dryas is little understood. In this paper, we present the first radiocarbon-dated centennial-scale stable water isotope record from permafrost in northern Alaska. This Late Glacial winter climate reconstruction from Barrow ice wedges demonstrates the existence of a Younger Dryas cold event, formerly believed to be reduced or absent in this area. Our stable isotope data display a gradual change of the atmospheric moisture source conditions during the Younger Dryas, likely associated with the successive opening of the Bering Strait.