Vegetation and Climate of the Northwest Coast of North America During the Last 500 K.Y.: High-Resolution Pollen Evidence from the Northern California Margin

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Conference Proceeding

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Pollen analyses of sediments from Holes 1019C, 1019E, 1020C, and 1020D as well as piston Core EW9504-17 provide continuous, chronostratigraphically controlled proxy vegetation and climate data for coastal northwest North America for the last ~500 k.y. Systematic changes in the representation of the diagnostic components of northern California plant assemblages clearly show orbital-scale variations. Interglacials are all marked by an abrupt increase in alder followed by expansion of lowland oak woodland and redwood forests. Glacials are dominated by montane forest and woodland assemblages. This sequence reflects large-scale climatic controls (e.g., orbital-scale variation in insolation and Northern Hemisphere ice sheets) in western North America over the last five glacial cycles. Regional climatic control (variations in sea-surface conditions) is implied by the differential development of xeric oak and mesic redwood communities.