Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research

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Vol. 35, No. 1, 2003

pp. 56-66

Vegetation and Climate of the New Siberian Islands for the Past 15,000 Years

V. M. Makeyev, D. P. Ponomareva, V. V. Pitulko, G. M. Chernova, D. V. Solovyeva

This article presents paleobotanical and paleoclimatic reconstructions of the New Siberian Islands for the past 15,000 years based on data from Quaternary geology and archaeology collected in the late 1980s and early 1990s as part of research conducted by the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia. The data were obtained from 18 reference sites from Holocene and upper Pleistocene deposits on Kotelny Island, the largest island of the New Siberian Archipelago, and from the smaller and more northerly Zhokhov Island. Conclusions are also drawn from the composition of the avian fauna recovered during the excavations of the Zhokhov archaeological site on that island. The composition of bird species is an important source of information which helps interpret the results of palynological analysis because the birds are very sensitive indicators of changes in temperature and vegetation. The palynological analysis has revealed a sequence of 13 spore-pollen complexes, that have been generalized as a scheme showing a broad sequence of events in the area of survey. The complexes belonging to the early Holocene time are markedly different from the others. The most favorable conditions occurred in the time span from 10,000 to 9000 BP. After 8000 yr ago the fluctuations were of lesser amplitude, and both their sequence and timing were close to those of Northern Europe, though there appear to be differences between the two areas in the range of variation.