Articles

Arctic Environmental Change of the Last Four Centuries

Science  14 Nov 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5341, pp. 1251-1256
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5341.1251

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Abstract

A compilation of paleoclimate records from lake sediments, trees, glaciers, and marine sediments provides a view of circum-Arctic environmental variability over the last 400 years. From 1840 to the mid-20th century, the Arctic warmed to the highest temperatures in four centuries. This warming ended the Little Ice Age in the Arctic and has caused retreats of glaciers, melting of permafrost and sea ice, and alteration of terrestrial and lake ecosystems. Although warming, particularly after 1920, was likely caused by increases in atmospheric trace gases, the initiation of the warming in the mid-19th century suggests that increased solar irradiance, decreased volcanic activity, and feedbacks internal to the climate system played roles.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: jto{at}ngdc.noaa.gov

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