Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Spring 5-1-2018

DOI

10.1038/s41598-018-25148-7

Abstract

The high Arctic is the fastest warming region on Earth, evidenced by extreme near-surface temperature increase in non-summer seasons, recent rapid sea ice decline and permafrost melting since the early 1990’s. Understanding the impact of climate change on the sensitive Arctic ecosystem to climate change has so far been hampered by the lack of time-constrained, high-resolution records and by implicit climate data analyses. Here, we show evidence of sharp growth in freshwater green algae as well as distinct diatom assemblage changes since ~1995, retrieved from a high-Arctic (80 °N) lake sediment record on Barentsøya (Svalbard). The proxy record approaches an annual to biennial resolution. Combining remotesensing and in-situ climate data, we show that this ecological change is concurrent with, and is likely driven by, the atmospheric warming and a sharp decrease in the length of the sea ice covered period in the region, and throughout the Arctic. Moreover, this research demonstrates the value of palaeoclimate records in pristine environments for supporting and extending instrumental records. Our results reinforce and extend observations from other sites that the high Arctic has already undergone rapid ecological changes in response to on-going climate change, and will continue to do so in the future.

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