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  • 1.
    Karnik, Isabelle
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences.
    Arctic Loess as an Environmental Archive: Identifying Weathering with XRF Analysis in West Greenland2019Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
    Abstract [en]

    Loess from west Greenland was studied to evaluate Holocene paleoclimate in the Arctic region. Deposits of loess are formed over long time scales through deposition of fine aeolian sediment and they exist in several places in the world. The main aeolian dust source in the study area is glaciofluvial material derived from the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS). Studying and understanding paleoclimate can help to make better predictions about the future in this sensitive region. Apart from sea level rise, melting of the GrIS also leads to an increase of aeolian dust as it gets released from the ice, which influences atmospheric and metrological phenomenon as well as the ice sheet’s albedo. This creates negative feedback mechanisms through increasing melting rates of glaciers and warming of the Arctic.

    Loess samples from two sites in the Kangerlussuaq area were analyzed and the mineral composition was measured with X-Ray Florescence Spectroscopy (XRF). With the measured mineral content, weathering indices were calculated to identify rates of weathering during the Holocene. Increased weathering intensities indicate warmer and more humid climate. The deposits in Greenland are relatively thin. Radiocarbon dating of the sediment suggests that the oldest parts of the profiles are about 4000 cal. yr B.P. (calibrated years before present).

    Arctic loess has not been studied very extensively. Weathering indices and ratios developed for classical loess, that had not been tested on Arctic loess, was used. The results were plotted by depth and age to visually identify changes over time. By considering the geology, climate and local conditions of the study area, some weathering indices seemed to be suitable, generating matching trends between the two sites. Compared with results from previous studies, the results also seemed credible.

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