This review summarises landform records and published age-estimates (largely based upon tephrochronology) to provide an overview of glacier fluctuations upon the Kamchatka Peninsula during the Holocene and, to a lesser degree, earlier phases of glaciation. The evidence suggests that following deglaciation from the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), the peninsula experienced numerous phases of small-scale glacial advance. During the Late Glacial, moraine sequences appear to reflect the former presence of extensive glaciers in some parts of the peninsula, though little chronological control is available for deposits of this period. During the Holocene, the earliest and most extensive phase of advance likely occurred sometime prior to c. 6.8 ka, when glaciers extended up to 8 km beyond their current margins. However, these deposits lack maximum age constrains, and pre-Holocene ages cannot be discounted. Between c. 6.8 ka and the onset of ‘Neoglaciation’ c. 4.5 ka, there is little evidence of glacial advance upon the peninsula, and this period likely coincides with the Holocene climatic optimum (or ‘hypsithermal’). Since c. 4.5 ka, numerous moraines have been deposited, likely reflecting a series of progressively less extensive phases of ice advance during the Late Holocene. The final stage of notable ice advance occurred during the Little Ice Age (LIA), between c. 1350 and 1850 C.E., when reduced summer insolation in the Northern Hemisphere likely coincided with solar activity minima and several strong tropical volcanic eruptions to induce widespread cooling. Following the LIA, glaciers upon the peninsula have generally shown a pattern of retreat, with accelerated mass loss in recent decades. However, a number of prominent climatically and non-climatically controlled glacial advances have also occurred during this period. In general, there is evidence to suggest that millennial scale patterns in the extent and timing of glaciation upon the peninsula (encompassing much of the last glacial period) are governed by the extent of ice sheets in North America. Millennial-to-centennial scale fluctuations of Kamchatkan glaciers (encompassing much of the Holocene) are governed by the location and relative intensity of the Aleutian Low and Siberian High pressure systems. Decadal scale variations in glacier extent and mass balance (particularly since the LIA) are governed by inter-decadal climatic variability over the North Pacific (as reflected by the Pacific Decadal Oscillation), alongside a broader trend of hemispheric warming.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Global and Planetary Change