Northwestern North America

D. G. Gavin, F. S. Hu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The mountainous terrain of northwestern North America currently supports a range of vegetation spanning coastal temperate rain forest to sagebrush steppe. Pollen records indicate a diverse set of ecological processes tracking a complex climate history. The region was divided by the Cordilleran ice sheet until close to the end of the Pleistocene. Abrupt climate changes during the deglacial led to rapid vegetation changes in northern areas, but vegetation in southern regions was less sensitive. Early Holocene vegetation indicated warmer and drier climates with more frequent fire from Oregon to central British Columbia, but in Alaska, conifer forest was slower to establish, indicating a complex climatic history. The late Holocene was marked by increased forest density and cool-adapted taxa in Oregon to British Columbia and increased black spruce peatland vegetation in Alaska.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Quaternary Science
Subtitle of host publicationSecond Edition
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9780444536433
ISBN (Print)9780444536426
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013


  • Alaska
  • British Columbia
  • Climate change
  • Forest fire
  • Holocene
  • Mount Mazama
  • Oregon
  • Pollen analysis
  • Refugia
  • Tree migration
  • Washington
  • Younger Dryas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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