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The vegetation of the treeline ecotone of the southern declivity of arid High Asia (Hindu Kush, northern areas of Pakistan; Himalaya, northern central Nepal) is dominated by hedgehog-like open dwarf shrublands of thorny cushions. Since climatically sensitive ecotones are always also sensitive to human impact, the question arises whether the current lack of forests is a result of the Subboreal climate decline or of human impact. Due to inadequate knowledge of the pollen flora and of ecological indicator values of the plants, pollen analyses in High Asia have mainly been limited to the regional verification of globally known climatic impulses. However, the role of human impact on regional vegetation patterns has been widely neglected. We postulate that today's open dwarf shrublands replace woodlands and forests. Isolated vigorous juniper trees and successful reforestation appear to confirm our hypothesis. An abrupt decline of Pinus forests before 5700 and 5400 ka cal yr BP can be demonstrated. As the first indicator pollen of human impact appeared at both sites synchronous with the forest pollen decline, we infer human impact to be a more decisive cause for this environment change superimposing the effects of a climatic deterioration. The forests were displaced by open dwarf shrublands.
Radiocarbon assays of sediments from Lake Shelby, US Gulf Coast, exhibit substantial 14C deficiencies of 9.3% and 4.7% for the limnic sapropel and associated fresh-water clams Rangia cuneata, respectively. Measured radiocarbon dates from the sapropel and clams require corrections of 785 ± 80 and 365 ± 90 14C yr (1σ), respectively, in order to achieve consistency with the radiocarbon time scale. Lake sediments of the US Gulf Coast serve as unique repositories of pre-historic hurricane strikes. Previously unrecognized radiocarbon deficiencies likely render compromised chronologies of the paleo-hurricane records, and erroneous estimates of return period and landfall probability that are derived from the storm chronologies. The recalculated severe hurricane chronologies suggest that the annual landfall probabilities of the last millennium on the US Gulf Coast are equal to, or higher than, the preceding three millennia.
This study represents the first attempt to develop and apply lichenometric dating curves of Rhizocarpon subgenus Rhizocarpon for dating glacier fluctuations in the Patagonian Andes. Six glaciers were studied along the Patagonian Andes. Surfaces of known ages (historical evidences and tree-ring analyses) were used as control sites to develop indirect lichenometric dating curves. Dating curves developed for the studied glaciers show the same general logarithmic form, indicating that growth rate of subgenus Rhizocarpon decreases over time. The strong west–east precipitation gradient across the Andean Cordillera introduces statistically significant differences in the growth curves, with faster growth rates in the moist west sites than the drier eastern sites. Latitudinal difference among the studied glaciers does not appear to be a major factor regulating lichen growth rates. Therefore, we developed two lichenometric curves for dating glacier fluctuations in wetter and drier sites in the Patagonian Andes during the past 450 yrs. Application of the developed curves to moraine dating allowed us to complement glacial chronologies previously obtained by tree-ring analyses. A first chronosequence for moraine formation in the Torrecillas Glacier (42°S) is presented. Our findings confirm the utility of lichenometry to date deglaciated surfaces in the Patagonian Andes.
The deltaic plain of the Petite Camargue which constitutes the western part of the Rhone Delta, began its main progradation around 2000 yr ago. Several delta lobes follow each other and have participated in the deltaic evolution. The deltaic lobes have distinct morphologies which reflect the dynamic fluvial and marine processes under the influence of climatic and human controls. Two delta lobe systems were built by the Daladel and Peccaïs channels, after which a deflected wave-influenced delta lobe was formed by the La Ville and Saint-Roman channels. The latest channel, the Rhone Vif channel, is skewed because this channel was completely canalized and engineered up to its mouth in the beginning of the 16th century. Since the avulsion of this channel about 1550 A.D., the coastline of the Petite Camargue has been especially affected by the influence of waves and currents. The spits replaced the beach ridges which juxtaposed themselves and have migrated westward since the 16th century. The formation of the western part of the delta in the last 2000 yr is affected by not only the fluvial sedimentary fluxes and the coastal dynamics to the mouth but also climatic change and human influence.
A multidisciplinary, high-resolution paleoecological study (Lepidoptera and plant remains, macroscopic charcoal, pollen) was conducted on a 4000-yr peat monolith extracted from the margin of an ombrotrophic peatland on Anticosti Island (Gulf of St. Lawrence, eastern Canada) to reconstruct the long-term natural disturbances (insect outbreaks, forest fires) of a balsam fir/spruce forest. We hypothesized that an activity of insect defoliators (spruce budworm, hemlock looper) was the main disturbance factor of conifer forests during the Late Holocene. The earliest remains of spruce budworm and hemlock looper were found ca. 3220 and 2350 cal yr BP, respectively. Peaks of insect head capsules occurred from ca. 1640 to ca. 625 cal yr BP. Low balsam fir pollen concentrations during this period suggest a lengthy episode (∼ 1000 yr) of high insect activity, resulting in extensive fir dieback and mortality. The long-term dynamics of the pristine balsam fir/spruce forests were mainly governed by the activity of insect defoliators. The limited extent and possibly the low occurrence of forest fires in the maritime environment of Anticosti Island allowed the development of mature coniferous stands propitious for insect infestations. Insect head capsules appeared to be a useful and effective tool for establishing insect presence and activity during the Holocene.
The third millennium BP crisis of the central African rainforest is not sufficiently understood. The low resolution of most pollen profiles and a large plateau of the calibration curve aggravate the exact dating of the event, and its causal climatic parameters are debated. We present a high-resolution pollen profile from the swamp site Nyabessan in the southern Cameroonian rainforest, covering the period 3100-2300 cal yr BP. Between 3100 and 2500 cal yr BP, the climate was favourable for a regional evergreen forest with Caesalpiniaceae and Lophira and a local Raphia swamp forest. Around 2500/2400 cal yr BP, a significant decrease of mature forest and swamp forest taxa and an increase of pioneers indicate that the rain forest was seriously disturbed and replaced by secondary formations. The dominance of Trema orientalis, a pioneer well adapted to seasonal desiccation, points to a much more accentuated seasonality after 2500 cal yr BP, which seems to be linked to a southwards shift of the ITCZ during the northern hemisphere winter months. We propose that the rain forest crisis between 2500 and 2200 cal BP created favourable conditions for farming and paved the way for a major expansion of Bantu speaking populations.
Trees growing on the Mt. Sedom salt diapir, at the southern Dead Sea shore, were swept by runoff into salt caves and subsequently deposited therein, sheltered from surface weathering. A subfossil Tamarix tree trunk, found in a remote section of Sedom Cave is radiocarbon dated to between ∼ 2265 and 1930 BCE. It was sampled in 109 points across the tree rings for carbon and nitrogen isotopes. The Sedom Tamarix demonstrates a few hundred years of 13C and 15N isotopic enrichment, culminating in extremely high δ13C and δ15N values. Calibration using modern Tamarix stable isotopes in various climatic settings in Israel shows direct relationship between isotopic enrichment and climate deterioration, particularly rainfall decrease. The subfossil Tamarix probably reflects an environmental crisis during the Intermediate Bronze Age, which subsequently killed the tree ∼ 1930 BCE. This period coincides with the largest historic fall of the Dead Sea level, as well as the demise of the large regional urban center of the 3rd millennium BCE. The environmental crisis may thus explain the archaeological evidence of a shift from urban to pastoral culture during the Intermediate Bronze Age. This was apparently the most severe long-term historical drought that affected the region in the mid-late Holocene.
The origin and significance of pimple mounds (low, elliptical to circular dune-like features found across much of the south-central United States) have been debated for nearly two centuries. We cored pimple mounds at four sites spanning the Ozark Plateau, Arkansas River Valley, and Gulf of Mexico Coastal Plain and found that these mounds have a regionally consistent textural asymmetry such that there is a significant excess of coarse-grained sediment within their northwest flanks. We interpret this asymmetry as evidence of an eolian depositional origin of these mounds and conclude they are relict nebkhas (coppice dunes) deposited during protracted middle to late Holocene droughts. These four mounds yield optically stimulated luminescence ages between 2400 and 700 yr that correlate with well-documented periods of eolian activity and droughts on the southern Great Plains, including the Medieval Climate Anomaly. We conclude vegetation loss during extended droughts led to local eolian deflation and pimple mound deposition. These mounds reflect landscape response to multi-decadal droughts for the south-central U.S. The spatial extent of pimple mounds across this region further underscores the severity and duration of late Holocene droughts, which were significantly greater than historic droughts.
We use beaver-pond deposits and geomorphic characteristics of small streams to assess long-term effects of beavers and climate change on Holocene fluvial activity in northern Yellowstone National Park. Although beaver damming has been considered a viable mechanism for major aggradation of mountain stream valleys, this has not been previously tested with stratigraphic and geochronologic data. Thirty-nine radiocarbon ages on beaver-pond deposits fall primarily within the last 4000 yr, but gaps in dated beaver occupation from ~ 2200–1800 and 950–750 cal yr BP correspond with severe droughts that likely caused low to ephemeral discharges in smaller streams, as in modern severe drought. Maximum channel gradient for reaches with Holocene beaver-pond deposits decreases with increasing basin area, implying that stream power limits beaver damming and pond sediment preservation. In northern Yellowstone, the patchy distribution and cumulative thickness of mostly < 2 m of beaver-pond deposits indicate that net aggradation forced by beaver damming is small, but beaver-enhanced aggradation in some glacial scour depressions is greater. Although 20th-century beaver loss and dam abandonment caused significant local channel incision, most downcutting along alluvial reaches of the study streams is unrelated to beaver dam abandonment or predates historic beaver extirpation.
Coral microatolls have been long used as precise indicators of past sea level, but their use for precise definition of detailed sea-level fluctuations is still rare. Here we report twelve high-precision thermal ionization mass spectrometric 230Th ages for twelve rims of five mid-Holocene microatolls from an emerged reef terrace at Leizhou Peninsula, northern South China Sea. This is a tectonically stable area, enabling us to reconstruct both the timing and trajectory of local sea-level fluctuations accurately. The elevations of these microatoll rims and cores were accurately determined relative to the surface of modern living microatolls at the same site. The results indicate that the sea level during the period of 7050–6600 yr bp (years before AD 1950) was about 171 to 219 cm above the present, with at least four cycles of fluctuations. Over this 450 yr interval, sea level fluctuated by 20–40 cm on century scales.
Upper Pleistocene remains of the Ice Age steppe lion Panthera leo spelaea (Goldfuss, 1810) have been found in the Perick Caves, Sauerland Karst, NW Germany. Bones from many hyenas and their imported prey dating from the Lower to Middle Weichselian have also been recovered from the Perick Cave hyena den. These are commonly cracked or exhibit deep chew marks. The absence of lion cub bones, in contrast to hyena and cave bear cub remains in the Perick Caves, and other caves of northern Germany, excludes the possibility that P. leo spelaea used the cave for raising cubs. Only in the Wilhelms Cave was a single skeleton of a cub found in a hyena den. Evidence of the chewing, nibbling and cracking of lion bones and crania must have resulted from the importation and destruction of lion carcasses (4% of the prey fauna). Similar evidence was preserved at other hyena den caves and open air sites in Germany. The bone material from the Perick and other Central European caves points to antagonistic hyena and lion conflicts, similar to clashes of their modern African relatives.
Based on proxy records from western Black Sea cores, we provide a comprehensive study of climate change during the last glacial maximum and late-glacial period in the Black Sea region. For the first time we present a record of relative changes in precipitation for NW Anatolia based on variations in the terrigenous supply expressed as detrital carbonate concentration. The good correspondence between reconstructed rainfall intensity in NW Anatolia and past western Mediterranean sea surface temperatures (SSTs) implies that during the glacial period the precipitation variability was controlled, like today, by Mediterranean cyclonic disturbances. Periods of reduced precipitation correlate well with low SSTs in the Mediterranean related to Heinrich events H1 and H2. Stable oxygen isotopes and lithological and mineralogical data point to a significant modification in the dominant freshwater/sediment source concomitant to the meltwater inflow after 16.4 cal ka BP. This change implies intensification of the northern sediment source and with other records from the Mediterranean region, consistently suggests a reorganization of the atmospheric circulation pattern affecting the hydrology of the European continent. The early deglacial northward retreat of both atmospheric and oceanic polar fronts was responsible for the warming in the Mediterranean region, leading simultaneously to more humid conditions in central and northern Europe.
High resolution multiproxy analysis (microcharcoal, pollen, organic carbon, Neogloboquadrina pachyderma (s), ice rafted debris) of the deep-sea record MD04-2845 (Bay of Biscay) provides new insights for understanding mechanisms of fire regime variability of the last glacial period in western France. Fire regime of western France closely follows Dansgaard–Oeschger climatic variability and presents the same pattern than that of southwestern Iberia, namely low fire regime associated with open vegetation during stadials including Heinrich events, and high fire regime associated with open forest during interstadials. This supports a regional climatic control on fire regime for western Europe through fuel availability for the last glacial period. Additionally, each of Heinrich events 6, 5 and 4 is characterised by three episodes of fire regime, with a high regime bracketed by lower fire regime episodes, related to vegetational succession and complex environmental condition changes.
Between 10,500 and 9000 cal yr BP, δ18O values of benthic ostracodes within glaciolacustrine varves from Lake Superior range from − 18 to − 22‰ PDB. In contrast, coeval ostracode and bivalve records from the Lake Huron and Lake Michigan basins are characterized by extreme δ18O variations, ranging from values that reflect a source that is primarily glacial (∼ − 20‰ PDB) to much higher values characteristic of a regional meteoric source (∼ − 5‰ PDB). Re-evaluated age models for the Huron and Michigan records yield a more consistent δ18O stratigraphy. The striking feature of these records is a sharp drop in δ18O values between 9400 and 9000 cal yr BP. In the Huron basin, this low δ18O excursion was ascribed to the late Stanley lowstand, and in the Lake Michigan basin to Lake Agassiz flooding. Catastrophic flooding from Lake Agassiz is likely, but a second possibility is that the low δ18O excursion records the switching of overflow from the Lake Superior basin from an undocumented northern outlet back into the Great Lakes basin. Quantifying freshwater fluxes for this system remains difficult because the benthic ostracodes in the glaciolacustrine varves of Lake Superior and Lake Agassiz may not record the average δ18O value of surface water.
Inactive parabolic dunes are present in southeastern Maryland, USA, along the east bank of the Potomac River. More elongate and finer-grained eolian deposits and paha-like ridges characterize the Potomac River–Patuxent River upland and the west side of Chesapeake Bay. These ridges are streamlined erosional features, veneered with eolian sediment and interspersed with dunes in the low-relief headwaters of Potomac- and Patuxent-river tributaries. Axis data for the dunes and ridges indicate formation by WNW–NW winds. Optically stimulated luminescence and radiocarbon age data suggest dune formation from ∼ 33–15 ka, agreeing with the 30–13 ka ages Denny, C.S., Owens, J.P., Sirkin, L., Rubin, M., 1979. The Parsonburg Sand in the central Delmarva Peninsula, Maryland and Delaware. U.S. Geol. Surv. Prof. Pap. 1067-B, 16 pp. suggested for eolian deposits east of Chesapeake Bay. Age range and paleowind direction(s) for eolian features in the Bay region approximate those for late Wisconsin loess in the North American midcontinent. Formation of midcontinent loess and Bay-region eolian features was coeval with rapid growth of the Laurentide Ice Sheet and strong cooling episodes (δ18O minima) evident in Greenland ice cores. Age and paleowind-direction coincidence, for eolian features in the midcontinent and Bay region, indicates strong mid-latitude WNW–NW winds for several hundred kilometers south of the Laurentide glacial terminus that were oblique to previously simulated anticyclonic winds for the last glacial maximum.
Aeolian dunes are widely used to reconstruct paleoenvironmental conditions. However, terminal dune fields (ergs) in the coastal desert of southern Peru – where information regarding Quaternary paleoenvironmental conditions is very limited – have until now not been used for paleoenvironmental reconstructions and the time depth of their accumulation is unknown. Here, different estimates are derived to constrain the time depth recorded in the Dunas Pampa Blanca, a terminal dune field in coastal southern Peru. Dune field age is calculated using the volume of the Dunas Pampa Blanca and (i) recent aeolian transport rate in migrating transverse dunes feeding the Dunas Pampa Blanca (derived from digital processing of sequential Landsat and Quickbird images) and (ii) limitations posed by recent fluvial sediment supply to the source of aeolian transport. The resulting maximum age estimate of 70 ± 8 ka (from aeolian transport) compares with a minimum age estimate of 4–75 ka (from sediment supply). However, a minimum age estimate of 110–450 ka is deduced from the tectonic and topographic evolution of the region. This discrepancy contradicts the hypothesis of late Quaternary stability in the Peruvian coastal desert and indicates that recent conditions of aeolian sediment supply and transport are not representative for the late Quaternary.
The lack of paleoecological records from the montane Atlantic Rainforest of coastal Brazil, a hotspot of biological diversity, has been a major obstacle to our understanding of the vegetational changes since the last glacial cycle. We present carbon isotope and pollen records to assess the impact of the glaciation on the native vegetation of the Serra do Mar rainforest in São Paulo, Brazil. From ca. 28,000 to ∼ 22,000 14C yr BP, a subtropical forest with conifer trees is indicative of cool and humid conditions. In agreement carbon isotopic data on soil organic matter suggest the presence of C3 plants and perhaps C4 plants from ∼ 28,000 to ∼ 19,000 14C yr BP. The significant increase in the sedimentation rate and algal spores from ∼ 19,450 to ∼ 19,000 14C yr BP indicates increasing humidity, associated to an erosion process between ∼ 19,000 and ∼ 15,600 14C yr BP. From ∼ 15,600 14C yr BP to present there is a substantial increase in arboreal elements and herbs, indicating more humid and warmer climate. From ∼ 19,000 to ∼ 1000 14C yr BP, δ13C values indicated the predominance of C3 plants. These results are in agreement with studies in speleothems of caves, which suggest humid conditions during the last glacial maximum.
The present-day clay mineral distribution in the southeastern Levantine Sea and its borderlands reveals a complex pattern of different sources and distribution paths. Smectite dominates the suspended load of the Nile River and of rivers in the Near East. Illite sources are dust-bearing winds from the Sahara and southwestern Europe. Kaolinite is prevalent in rivers of the Sinai, in Egyptian wadis, and in Saharan dust. A high-resolution sediment core from the southeastern Levantine Sea spanning the last 27 ka shows that all these sources contributed during the late Quaternary and that the Nile River played a very important role in the supply of clay. Nile influence was reduced during the glacial period but was higher during the African Humid Period. In contrast to the sharp beginning and end of the African Humid Period recorded in West African records (15 and 5.5 ka), our data show a more transitional pattern and slightly lower Nile River discharge rates not starting until 4 ka. The similarity of the smectite concentrations with fluctuations in sea-surface temperatures of the tropical western Indian Ocean indicates a close relationship between the Indian Ocean climate system and the discharge of the Nile River.
In Albania, the Osum and Vjoje rivers cross the active graben system and the active frontal thrust system of the Albanides. The effects of climatic and geodynamic forcing on the development of these two rivers were investigated by the means of field mapping, topographic surveying and absolute exposure-age dating. We established the chronology of terraces abandonment from the compilation of new dating (14C and in situ produced 10Be) and previously published data. We identified nine fluvial terraces units developed since Marine Isotope Stage 6 up to historic times. From this reconstituted history, we quantified the vertical uplift on a time scale shorter than the glacial climatic cycle. Regional bulging produces an overall increase of the incision rate from the west to the east that reaches a maximum value of 2.8 m/ka in the hinterland. Local pulses of incision are generated by activation of normal faults. The most active faults have a SW–NE trend and a vertical slip rate ranging from 1.8 to 2.2 m/ka. This study outlines the geodynamic control in the development of rivers flowing through the Albanides on the scale of 103–105ka.