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Keywords:

  • Denmark Strait;
  • biogenic silica;
  • sand petrology;
  • climate variability

ABSTRACT. Two well dated Holocene sediment records bordering the Denmark Strait region have been used to reconstruct past climate variability. The content of biogenic silica, classic and organic material and moss in a lacustrine record from Lake N14 has been used to infer past variability in precipitation and temperature in southern Greenland. Sedimentologic and petrologic composition of sand in a shelf sediment record from the Djúpáll trough is used to infer past variability in the northwestern storm activity on northwestern Iceland, which probably also affected the inflow of polar waters from the East Greenland Current. Our evaluation of these records with a number of previous studies from the region documents Holocene climatic optimum conditions peaking between 8000 and 6500 calendar years before present (cal yr BP). Mid-Holocene climate deterioration set in around 5000 cal yr BP followed by a further marked setback around 3500 cal yr BP. A stacking of climate variability on a centennial timescale from previous studies in the area shows a fairly good correspondence to the timing of marked cold and warm events as evidenced from the Lake N14 and the Djúpáll trough records. Cooler periods are explained as the response to marked incursions of ice-laden polar water from the Arctic Ocean to the Denmark Strait region. Cool northerly and northwesterly winds along the East Greenland coast in relation to frequent strong atmospheric low pressure in the Barents Sea, coupled with strong high pressure over Greenland, would have favoured southward export of polar waters. A comparison with the proxy records of nuclide production (14C and 10Be) suggests that solar activity may have had some influence on the atmospheric pressure distribution in the Denmark Strait region.