Reconstruction of sea-surface conditions at middle to high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) based on dinoflagellate cyst assemblages
A new calibration database of census counts of organic-walled dinoflagellate cyst (dinocyst) assemblages has been developed from the analyses of surface sediment samples collected at middle to high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere after standardisation of taxonomy and laboratory procedures. The database comprises 940 reference data points from the North Atlantic, Arctic and North Pacific oceans and their adjacent seas, including the Mediterranean Sea, as well as epicontinental environments such as the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Bering Sea and the Hudson Bay. The relative abundance of taxa was analysed to describe the distribution of assemblages. The best analogue technique was used for the reconstruction of Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) sea-surface temperature and salinity during summer and winter, in addition to sea-ice cover extent, at sites from the North Atlantic ( n=63), Mediterranean Sea ( n=1) and eastern North Pacific ( n=1). Three of the North Atlantic cores, from the continental margin of eastern Canada, revealed a barren LGM interval, probably because of quasi-permanent sea ice. Six other cores from the Greenland and Norwegian seas were excluded from the compilation because of too sparse assemblages and poor analogue situation. At the remaining sites ( n= 54), relatively close modern analogues were found for most LGM samples, which allowed reconstructions. The new LGM results are consistent with previous reconstructions based on dinocyst data, which show much cooler conditions than at present along the continental margins of Canada and Europe, but sharp gradients of increasing temperature offshore. The results also suggest low salinity and larger than present contrasts in seasonal temperatures with colder winters and more extensive sea-ice cover, whereas relatively warm conditions may have prevailed offshore in summer. From these data, we hypothesise low thermal inertia in a shallow and low-density surface water layer.