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A pollen Record of Environmental Changes in the Northern Gulf of Mexico since AD 1090

Authors: Lawrence Kiage*, Georgia State University
Topics: Paleoenvironmental Change, Paleoenvironmental Change, Paleoenvironmental Change
Keywords: Palynology, Paleoenvironmental Change, Coastal Louisiana, Paleotempestology, Wetlands, Little Ice Age, Medieval Warm Period
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Palynological studies from the northern Gulf of Mexico (GOM) have primarily focused on understanding long-term climatic changes. Very few studies have addressed paleoenvironmental changes during the common era. This study used stratigraphic, loss-on-ignition, and pollen data from Bay Jimmy Island, to investigate environmental changes in coastal Louisiana since ca. 1090 AD. The results show that the wetland that presently defines Bay Jimmy area, LA, was formed at ca. AD 1090 and has mostly been influenced by prevailing climate conditions, including rare extreme events, and human activities. At least four major storms impacted the site during the past 1200 years, including two in recent times. The results indicate that the northern GOM was warm and dry during the Medieval Warm Period (ca. AD 950-1250). After AD 1090, the landscape was characterized by scattered vegetation communities of Pinus and Juglans, which were later succeeded by a closed forest that included Quercus, and Morus. The results show that red mangroves (Rhizophora) were established in the vicinity of Bay Jimmy until shortly after cal AD 1450 and 1640. The pollen record indicates that the LIA period (AD. 1550-1850) was cold and dry, and defined by an open vegetation community. The presence of Ambrosia and Cheno/Am pollen throughout the record suggests that anthropogenic influence has been part of the fabric of the southern Louisiana landscapes throughout the 1200 years.

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