Late Weichselian (Valdaian) and Holocene vegetation and environmental history of the northern Timan Ridge, European Arctic Russia
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Lake and peat deposits from the Timan Ridge, Arctic Russia, were pollen analysed, reconstructing the vegetation history and paleoenvironment since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) 20–18,000 years ago. The sites studied are located inside the margins of a large paleolake of about 20 km², by us named Lake Timan. This lake developed in the Late Weichselian, more than 30,000 years after the deglaciation of this region, and was formed due to increased precipitation and warmer summers that accelerated the melting of stagnant ice within its catchment. The lake was drained during the early Holocene when the outlet rivers eroded the spillways. A new generation of much smaller lakes formed during the Holocene when the last remnants of buried glacier ice melted away causing the exposed floor of Lake Timan to subside. Since deglaciation, the following regional vegetation development has been recorded: (1) During the initial stage of Lake Timan, the dominant vegetation was discontinuous steppe/tundra, with patches of snow bed vegetation. (2) A dwarf-shrub tundra established during the Late Weichselian interstadial (Allerød), probably reflecting warmer and moister conditions. (3) The Younger Dryas cooling is recognised by a reversal to steppe/tundra and snowbeds on unstable mineral-soils, and higher palynological richness. (4) Soon after the transition into the Holocene, a birch-forest established on the Timan Ridge. (5) A cooling starting around 8200 cal.years BP initiated the deforestation of the exposed hills. In the most protected sites, birch trees persisted until later than 4000 years ago, reflecting a gradual development into the present treeless dwarf-shrub tundra.