Sedimentary pellets as an ice cover proxy in a High Arctic ice-covered lake
Sediment aggregates (“sedimentary pellets”) within the sedimentary record of Lake A (83°00’N, 75°30’W), Ellesmere Island, Canada, are used to construct a 1000 year proxy record of ice-cover extent and dynamics on this perennially ice-covered, High Arctic lake. These pellets are interpreted to form during fall or early winter when littoral sediment adheres to ice forming around the lake’s periphery or during summer through the development of anchor ice. The sediment likely collects in ice interstices and is concentrated in the upper ice layers through summer surface ice melt and winter basal ice growth. The pellets remain frozen in the ice until a summer or series of summers with reduced ice cover allows for their deposition across the lake basin. Sedimentary pellet frequency within multiple sediment cores is used to develop a chronology of ice-cover fluctuations. This proxy ice-cover record is largely corroborated by a record of unusual sedimentation in Lake A involving iron-rich, dark-orange to red laminae overlying more diffuse laminae with a lighter hue. This sediment sequence is hypothesized to represent years with reduced ice cover through increased chemocline ventilation and iron deposition. During the past millennium, the most notable period of inferred reduced ice cover is ca. 1891 AD to present. Another period of ice cover mobility is suggested ca. 1582-1774 AD, while persistent ice cover is inferred during the 1800s and prior to 1582 AD. The proxy ice-cover record corresponds well with most regional melt-season proxy temperature and paleoecological records, especially during the 1800s and 1900s.