226 research outputs found

    Climate variability in SE Europe since 1450 AD based on a varved sediment record from Etoliko Lagoon (Western Greece)

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    To achieve deeper understanding of climate variability during the last millennium in SE Europe, we report new sedimentological and paleoecological data from Etoliko Lagoon, Western Greece. The record represents the southernmost annually laminated (i.e., varved) archive from the Balkan Peninsula spanning the Little Ice Age, allowing insights into critical time intervals of climate instability such as during the Maunder and Dalton solar minima. After developing a continuous, ca. 500-year-long varve chronology, high-resolution μ–XRF counts, stable-isotope data measured on ostracod shells, palynological (including pollen and dinoflagellate cysts), and diatom data are used to decipher the season-specific climate and ecosystem evolution at Etoliko Lagoon since 1450 AD. Our results show that the Etoliko varve record became more sensitive to climate change from 1740 AD onwards. We attribute this shift to the enhancement of primary productivity within the lagoon, which is documented by an up to threefold increase in varve thickness. This marked change in the lagoon's ecosystem was caused by: (i) increased terrestrial input of nutrients, (ii) a closer connection to the sea and human eutrophication particularly from 1850 AD onwards, and (iii) increasing summer temperatures. Integration of our data with those of previously published paleolake sediment records, tree-ring-based precipitation reconstructions, simulations of atmospheric circulation and instrumental precipitation data suggests that wet conditions in winter prevailed during 1740–1790 AD, whereas dry winters marked the periods 1790–1830 AD (Dalton Minimum) and 1830–1930 AD, the latter being sporadically interrupted by wet winters. This variability in precipitation can be explained by shifts in the large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns over the European continent that affected the Balkan Peninsula (e.g., North Atlantic Oscillation). The transition between dry and wet phases at Etoliko points to longitudinal shifts of the precipitation pattern in the Balkan Peninsula during the Little Ice Age

    The world’s earliest Aral-Sea type disaster: the decline of the Loulan Kingdom in the Tarim Basin

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    The presented data are accessible in the PANGAEA database, https://doi.pangaea.de/10.1594/PANGAEA.871173.Remnants of cities and farmlands in China’s hyperarid Tarim Basin indicate that environmental conditions were significantly wetter two millennia ago in a region which is barren desert today. Historical documents and age data of organic remains show that the Loulan Kingdom flourished during the Han Dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE) but was abandoned between its end and 645 CE. Previous archaeological, geomorphological and geological studies suggest that deteriorating climate conditions led to the abandonment of the ancient desert cities. Based on analyses of lake sediments from Lop Nur in the eastern Tarim Basin and a review of published records, we show that the Loulan Kingdom decline resulted from a man-made environmental disaster comparable to the recent Aral Sea crisis rather than from changing climate. Lop Nur and other lakes within the Han Dynasty realm experienced rapidly declining water levels or even desiccation whilst lakes in adjacent regions recorded rising levels and relatively wet conditions during the time of the Loulan Kingdom decline. Water withdrawal for irrigation farming in the middle reaches of rivers likely caused water shortage downstream and eventually the widespread deterioration of desert oases a long time before man initiated the Aral Sea disaster in the 1960s.Funding was provided by China’s NSF projects (40830420, 41471003), the State key project (2003BA612A-06–15) of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China and the German Research Foundation (DFG grant Mi 730/16-1). We thank two anonymous reviewers who provided very constructive comments on an earlier version of this paper.Peer Reviewe

    Implications of submonthly oxygen and carbon isotope variations in late Pleistocene Melanopsis shells for regional and local hydroclimate in the upper Jordan River valley

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    Many water-stressed regions of the globe have a highly seasonal precipitation regime. However, seasonality in the past and under changing climates is little studied. Submonthly records of sclerochronological δ18O and δ13C values of Melanopsis shells from the Jordan River Dureijat archaeological site (JRD) in the upper Jordan River valley presented here document the hydrology of paleo-Lake Hula. These records were assessed for changes in seasonal hydrology in the lake and compared with modern shells collected from present-day waterbodies in northern Israel and with models of δ18Oshell. Results from shells in sediments dating from the last glacial maximum (LGM) to the Bolling-Allerod imply changes in waterbody size that qualitatively parallel changes in the late Pleistocene Lake Lisan levels; Hula Lake was well buffered when Lake Lisan stood at a high stand and poorly buffered when water levels were lower. Furthermore, data from shells dated to the LGM suggest inflowing water with lower δ18O values than local rainfall, providing evidence for a greater proportion of snow in the catchment than today. Reconstruction of water δ18O and mixing-model calculations suggest that snowmelt contribution to spring water during the LGM may have been more than twice the amount in the modern-day catchment

    Large‐scale mass movements recorded in the sediments of Lake Hallstatt (Austria)–evidence for recurrent natural hazards at a UNESCO World Heritage site

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    The Bronze to Iron Age underground salt mining complex of Hallstatt (Austria) is widely recognised for its cultural importance and wealth of archaeological artefacts. However, while the daily life in the salt mines is archaeologically well documented and environmental effects of the mining activity have been investigated recently, the impact of natural hazards on the prehistoric mining community is still poorly understood. For instance, while it is well established that the prehistoric underground mines have repeatedly been destroyed by large-scale mass movements, only little is known about the characteristics and extent of these events as well as about mass-movement recurrence during more recent times. To shed light on past mass-movement activity in the vicinity of the Hallstatt salt mines, we investigated sediment cores from adjacent Lake Hallstatt. Within the regular lake sediments we identified three large-scale event deposits, which are interpreted to originate from spontaneous or seismically induced mass movements in the mid-19th and late 9th century ce and the mid-4th century bce. While the age of the latter event is in good agreement with the abandonment of the famous Iron Age cemetery at Hallstatt, the younger events indicate that large-scale mass movements also occurred repeatedly during the Common Era

    The unexpectedly short Holocene Humid Period in Northern Arabia

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    The early to middle Holocene Humid Period led to a greening of today’s arid Saharo-Arabian desert belt. While this phase is well defined in North Africa and the Southern Arabian Peninsula, robust evidence from Northern Arabia is lacking. Here we fill this gap with unprecedented annually to sub-decadally resolved proxy data from Tayma, the only known varved lake sediments in Northern Arabia. Based on stable isotopes, micro-facies analyses and varve and radiocarbon dating, we distinguish five phases of lake development and show that the wet phase in Northern Arabia from 8800–7900 years BP is considerably shorter than the commonly defined Holocene Humid Period (~11,000–5500 years BP). Moreover, we find a two century-long peak humidity at times when a centennial-scale dry anomaly around 8200 years BP interrupted the Holocene Humid Period in adjacent regions. The short humid phase possibly favoured Neolithic migrations into Northern Arabia representing a strong human response to environmental changes

    New insights into lake responses to rapid climate change : the Younger Dryas in Lake Goscia(z) over dot, central Poland

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    The sediment profile from Lake Goscia(z) over dot in central Poland comprises a continuous, seasonally resolved and exceptionally well-preserved archive of the Younger Dryas (YD) climate variation. This provides a unique opportunity for detailed investigation of lake system responses during periods of rapid climate cooling (YD onset) and warming (YD termination). The new varve record of Lake Goscia(z) over dot presented here spans 1662 years from the late Allerod (AL) to the early Preboreal (PB). Microscopic varve counting provides an independent chronology with a YD duration of 1149+14/-22 years, which confirms previous results of 1140 +/- 40 years. We link stable oxygen isotopes and chironomid-based air temperature reconstructions with the response of various geochemical and varve microfacies proxies especially focusing on the onset and termination of the YD. Cooling at the YD onset lasted similar to 180 years, which is about a century longer than the terminal warming that was completed in similar to 70 years. During the AL/YD transition, environmental proxy data lagged the onset of cooling by similar to 90 years and revealed an increase of lake productivity and internal lake re-suspension as well as slightly higher detrital sediment input. In contrast, rapid warming and environmental changes during the YD/PB transition occurred simultaneously. However, initial changes such as declining diatom deposition and detrital input occurred already a few centuries before the rapid warming at the YD/PB transition. These environmental changes likely reflect a gradual increase in summer air temperatures already during the YD. Our data indicate complex and differing environmental responses to the major climate changes related to the YD, which involve different proxy sensitivities and threshold processes.Peer reviewe

    New high-resolution age data from the Ediacaran-Cambrian boundary indicate rapid, ecologically driven onset of the Cambrian explosion

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    The replacement of the late Precambrian Ediacaran biota by morphologically disparate animals at the beginning of the Phanerozoic was a key event in the history of life on Earth, the mechanisms and the timescales of which are not entirely understood. A composite section in Namibia providing biostratigraphic and chemostratigraphic data bracketed by radiometric dating constrains the Ediacaran–Cambrian boundary to 538.6–538.8 Ma, more than 2 Ma younger than previously assumed. The U–Pb-CA-ID TIMS zircon ages demonstrate an ultrashort time frame for the LAD of the Ediacaran biota to the FAD of a complex, burrowing Phanerozoic biota represented by trace fossils to a 410 ka time window of 538.99±0.21 Ma to 538.58±0.19 Ma. The extremely short duration of the faunal transition from Ediacaran to Cambrian biota within less than 410 ka supports models of ecological cascades that followed the evolutionary breakthrough of increased mobility at the beginning of the Phanerozoic

    VARDA (VARved sediments DAtabase) – providing and connecting proxy data from annually laminated lake sediments

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    Varved lake sediments provide long climatic records with high temporal resolution and low associated age uncertainty. Robust and detailed comparison of well-dated and annually laminated sediment records is crucial for reconstructing abrupt and regionally time-transgressive changes as well as validation of spatial and temporal trajectories of past climatic changes. The VARved sediments DAtabase (VARDA) presented here is the first data compilation for varve chronologies and associated palaeoclimatic proxy records. The current version 1.0 allows detailed comparison of published varve records from 95 lakes. VARDA is freely accessible and was created to assess outputs from climate models with high-resolution terrestrial palaeoclimatic proxies. VARDA additionally provides a technical environment that enables to explore the database of varved lake sediments using a connected data-model and can generate a state-of-the-art graphic representation of multi-site comparison. This allows to reassess existing chronologies and tephra events to synchronize and compare even distant varved lake records. Furthermore, the present version of VARDA permits to explore varve thickness data. In this paper, we report in detail on the data mining and compilation strategies for the identification of varved lakes and assimilation of high-resolution chronologies as well as the technical infrastructure of the database. Additional paleoclimate proxy data will be provided in forthcoming updates. The VARDA graph-database and user interface can be accessed online at https://varve.gfz-potsdam.de, all datasets of version 1.0 are available at http://doi.org/10.5880/GFZ.4.3.2019.003 (Ramisch et al., 2019)

    Central Mongolian lake sediments reveal new insights on climate change and equestrian empires in the Eastern Steppes

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    The repeated expansion of East Asian steppe cultures was a key driver of Eurasian history, forging new social, economic, and biological links across the continent. Climate has been suggested as important driver of these poorly understood cultural expansions, but paleoclimate records from the Mongolian Plateau often suffer from poor age control or ambiguous proxy interpretation. Here, we use a combination of geochemical analyses and comprehensive radiocarbon dating to establish the first robust and detailed record of paleohydrological conditions for Lake Telmen, Mongolia, covering the past ~ 4000 years. Our record shows that humid conditions coincided with solar minima, and hydrological modeling confirms the high sensitivity of the lake to paleoclimate changes. Careful comparisons with archaeological and historical records suggest that in the vast semi-arid grasslands of eastern Eurasia, solar minima led to reduced temperatures, less evaporation, and high biomass production, expanding the power base for pastoral economies and horse cavalry. Our findings suggest a crucial link between temperature dynamics in the Eastern Steppe and key social developments, such as the emergence of pastoral empires, and fuel concerns that global warming enhances water scarcity in the semi-arid regions of interior Eurasia