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Curaçao has reef terraces with the potential to provide sea-level histories of interglacial periods. Ages of the Hato (upper) unit of the “Lower Terrace” indicate that this reef dates to the last interglacial period, Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5.5. On Curaçao, this high sea stand lasted at least 8000 yr (~ 126 to ~ 118 ka). Elevations and age of this reef show that late Quaternary uplift rates on Curaçao are low, 0.026–0.054 m/ka, consistent with its tectonic setting. Ages of ~ 200 ka for corals from the older Cortalein unit of the Lower Terrace correlate this reef to MIS 7, with paleo-sea level estimates ranging from − 3.3 m to + 2.3 m. The estimates are in agreement with those for MIS 7 made from other localities and indicate that the penultimate interglacial period was a time of significant warmth, on a par with the present interglacial period. The ~ 400 ka (MIS 11) Middle Terrace I on Curaçao, dated by others, may have formed from a paleo-sea level of + 8.3 to + 10.0 m, or (less likely) + 17 m to + 20 m. The lower estimates are conservative compared to previous studies, but still require major ice sheet loss from Greenland and Antarctica.
Peatland testate amoebae are widely used to reconstruct paleohydrological/climatic changes, but many species are also known to respond to pollutants. Peatlands around the world have been exposed to anthropogenic and intermittent natural pollution through the late Holocene. This raises the question: can pollution lead to changes in the testate amoeba paleoecological record that could be erroneously interpreted as a climatic change? To address this issue we applied testate amoeba transfer functions to the results of experiments adding pollutants (N, P, S, Pb, O3) to peatlands and similar ecosystems. We found a significant effect in only one case, an experiment in which N and P were added, suggesting that pollution-induced biases are limited. However, we caution researchers to be aware of this possibility when interpreting paleoecological records. Studies characterising the paleoecological response to pollution allow pollution impacts to be tracked and distinguished from climate change.
The mid-Pleistocene transition (MPT) of the global climate system, marked by a shift of previously dominant 41-ka cycles to lately dominant 100-ka cycles roughly in the mid-Pleistocene, is one of the fundamental enigma in the Quaternary climate evolution. The process and origin of the MPT remain of persistent interest and conjecture. Here we present high-resolution astronomically tuned magnetic susceptibility (MS) and grain‐size records from a complete loess–paleosol sequence at Chaona on the central Chinese Loess Plateau. These two proxies are well-known sensitive indicators to the East Asian summer and winter monsoons, respectively. The records reveal a remarkable two-step simultaneous enhancement of the East Asian summer and winter monsoons at 0.9 Ma and 0.64 Ma, respectively, accompanied with an onset of a clear 100-ka cycle at 0.9 Ma and of a final, predominant 100-ka cycle starting at 0.64 Ma. The mid-Pleistocene stepwise rapid uplift of the Tibetan Plateau could be the mechanism driving the simultaneous enhancement of East Asian summer and winter monsoons and the shift of the periodicities during the MPT by complex positive feedbacks.
The evolution processes and forcing mechanisms of the Horqin dunefield in northern China are poorly understood. In this study, systematic OSL dating of multiple sites is used together with pollen analysis of a representative section in order to reconstruct the evolution of the dunefield since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Our results show that there was extensive dune mobilization 25–10 ka, transition to stabilization 10–8 ka, considerable dune stabilization 8–3 ka, and multiple episodes of stabilization and mobilization after 3 ka. Comparison of dune evolution of the dunefields in northern China during the Holocene showed that Asian monsoon and resultant effective moisture have played an important role in the evolution of dunefields at the millennial time scale. Further analysis indicated that the dune evolution in the Horqin dunefield before 3 ka was synchronous with climatic changes. However, increasing human activity has impacted dune evolution during the last 3 ka.
Stratigraphic analyses and radiocarbon geochronology of alluvial deposits exposed along the Roaring River, Colorado, lead to three principal conclusions: (1) the opinion that stream channels in the higher parts of the Front Range are relics of the Pleistocene and nonalluvial under the present climate, as argued in a water-rights trial USA v. Colorado, is untenable, (2) beds of clast-supported gravel alternate in vertical succession with beds of fine-grained sediment (sand, mud, and peat) in response to centennial-scale changes in snowmelt-driven peak discharges, and (3) alluvial strata provide information about Holocene climate history that complements the history provided by cirque moraines, periglacial deposits, and paleontological data. Most alluvial strata are of late Holocene age and record, among other things, that: (1) the largest peak flows since the end of the Pleistocene occurred during the late Holocene; (2) the occurrence of a mid- to late Holocene interval (~ 2450–1630(?) cal yr BP) of warmer climate, which is not clearly identified in palynological records; and (3) the Little Ice Age climate seems to have had little impact on stream channels, except perhaps for minor (~ 1 m) incision.
We present a multi-proxy record (pollen, microscopic charcoal, magnetic susceptibility, carbon-isotopic composition, total organic carbon [TOC], carbon/nitrogen [C/N] ratios, and particle size) of the late Holocene environmental change and human activities from Bongpo marsh on the east coast of Korea. Mutual interaction between the environment and humans during the late Holocene has not been properly investigated in Korea due to the lack of undisturbed samples with high sedimentation rates. In this study, the history of human responses to late Holocene environmental changes is clearly reconstructed using a multi-proxy paleoenvironmental approach that has not previously been applied in Korea. The evidence from Bongpo marsh indicates that 1) Bongpo marsh began to develop ca. 650 BC as a coastal lagoon was rapidly filled with organic matter, 2) agricultural disturbance around the study site remained slight until ca. AD 600, 3) full-scale intensive agriculture prevailed and the area of deforestation increased between ca. AD 600 and ca. AD 1870, and 4) the land use changed from lowland rice agriculture to upland cultivation when agricultural productivity declined after AD 1870, probably due to severe deforestation and the consequent heavy influx of clastic sediment on rice fields, as described in various historical documents.
Establishing firm radiocarbon chronologies for Quaternary permafrost sequences remains a challenge because of the persistence of old carbon in younger deposits. To investigate carbon dynamics and establish ice wedge formation ages in Interior Alaska, we dated a late Pleistocene ice wedge, formerly assigned to Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 3, and host sediments near Fairbanks, Alaska, with 24 radiocarbon analyses on wood, particulate organic carbon (POC), air-bubble CO2, and dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Our new CO2 and DOC ages are up to 11,170 yr younger than ice wedge POC ages, indicating that POC is detrital in origin. We conclude an ice wedge formation age between 28 and 22 cal ka BP during cold stadial conditions of MIS 2 and solar insolation minimum, possibly associated with Heinrich event 2 or the last glacial maximum. A DOC age for an ice lens in a thaw unconformity above the ice wedge returned a maximum age of 21,470 ± 200 cal yr BP. Our variable 14C data indicate recycling of older carbon in ancient permafrost terrain, resulting in radiocarbon ages significantly older than the period of ice-wedge activity. Release of ancient carbon with climatic warming will therefore affect the global 14C budget.
This study contributes to the paleoenvironmental reconstruction of the loess–paleosol sequence of Nussloch, Germany, by using n-alkanes as plant leaf-wax-derived lipid biomarkers. We found that n-alkane patterns and concentrations in the Saalian loess and the last interglacial Eemian paleosol of Nussloch point to very strong degradation and prevailing deciduous vegetation. Degradation effects in the overlying paleosols and loess layers are less pronounced and allow for the application of an end-member mixing model to estimate vegetation changes semi-quantitatively. Our findings highlight the potential for the interpretation of degradation-corrected n-alkane ratios. n-Alkane modelling results for loess layers, paleosols and an in-filled paleochannel dated to ~ 60–32 ka suggest that up to ~ 50% of the n-alkanes were derived from deciduous trees or shrubs. This finding is in agreement with the abundant occurrence of wood fragments and indicates a highly variable and dynamic landscape dominated by tundra shrubland. On the other hand, deciduous trees or shrubs did not contribute significantly to the soil organic matter in the late Weichselian loess layers and the intercalated Gelic Gleysols (~ 32–18 ka).
A study of six tephra layers discovered in different deposits between 1600 and 2700 m a.s.l. in the Apennine chain in central Italy allowed precise stratigraphic constraints on environmental and climatic changes between ca. 4.5 and 3.8 cal ka BP. Chemical analyses allowed the correlation of these tephra layers with the eruptions of Agnano Mt Spina (AMST) from Phlegrean Field and Avellino (AVT) from Somma–Vesuvius. Major environmental changes in the high mountains of the Central Apennines occurred just after the deposition of the AMST and predate the deposition of the AVT. At this time, renewed growth of the Calderone Glacier occurred, marking the onset of the Apennine “Neoglacial”. The presence of the AMST and AVT enabled us to make a precise, physical correlation with other archives in central Italy. Synchronization of records between sites showed that the period intervening the deposition of the AMST and AVT layers coincided with environmental changes that were not always exactly in phase. This highlights the fact that stratigraphic correlations using only radiocarbon chronologies (the most common method used for dating archives during the Holocene) could produce erroneous correlation of events, giving rise to oversimplified paleoclimatic reconstructions.
A sediment core from Lake Arapisto, Finland, was examined for fossil diatom assemblages to reconstruct changes in Holocene nutrient availability. Our aim was to investigate the long-term relationship between lake trophic status and climate by comparing the diatom-based phosphorus reconstruction with paleoclimatic proxies. Our results showed that the cold early Holocene was characterized by elevated nutrient conditions concurrent with newly exposed fertile ground. As the climate rapidly warmed and ice sheet further retreated, the catchment vegetation developed, which resulted in decreased nutrient flux into the lake. The Holocene Thermal Maximum (HTM), between ~ 8000 and 4000 cal yr BP, was characterized by oligotrophic conditions, which may have been caused by low effective precipitation and stable watershed vegetation. After the HTM, the lake became more productive. There was no particular increase in the trophic state that could be connected to more recent human influence. Although lake productivity has been shown to be affected by temperature, our record indicated that the nutrient dynamics were driven by complex interactions between changes in temperature, precipitation, catchment, and in-lake processes. Understanding of long-term nutrient dynamics and the associated processes can help in resolving relationships between lake productivity and climate during past and present climate changes.
Serial sampling of tooth enamel growth increments for carbon and oxygen isotopic analyses of Macropus (kangaroo) teeth was performed to assess the potential for reconstructing paleoseasonality. The carbon isotope composition of tooth enamel apatite carbonate reflects the proportional intake of C3 and C4 vegetation. The oxygen isotopic composition of enamel reflects that of ingested and metabolic water. Tooth enamel forms sequentially from the tip of the crown to the base, so dietary and environmental changes during the tooth's formation can be detected. δ13C and δ18O values were determined for a series of enamel samples drilled from the 3rd and 4th molars of kangaroos that were collected along a 900 km north–south transect in southern Australia. The serial sampling method did not yield pronounced seasonal isotopic variation patterns in Macropus enamel. The full extent of dietary isotopic variation may be obscured by attenuation of the isotopic signal during enamel mineralisation. Brachydont (low-crowned) Macropus teeth may be less sensitive to seasonal variation in isotopic composition due to time-averaging during mineralisation. However, geographic variations observed suggest that there may be potential for tracking latitudinal shifts in vegetation zones and seasonal environmental patterns in response to climate change.
Small isolated dune fields in the northern Mojave Desert are important centers of biodiversity and archaeological occupation sites. Currently dunes at Ash Meadows, Nevada, are stabilized by vegetation and are experiencing erosion of their upwind margins, indicating a negative sediment budget. New OSL ages from dunes at Ash Meadows indicate continuous eolian accumulation from 1.5 to 0.8 ka, with further accumulation around 0.2 ka. Prior studies (e.g., Mehringer and Warren, 1976) indicate periods of dune accumulation prior to 3.3 ka; 1.9–1 ka; and after 0.9 ka. These periods of eolian accumulation are largely synchronous with those identified elsewhere in the Mojave Desert. The composition of the Ash Meadows dunes indicates their derivation from regional fluvial sources, most likely during periods when axial washes were active as a result of enhanced winter precipitation.
Multiple proxies from a 319-cm peat core collected from the Hudson Bay Lowlands, northern Ontario, Canada were analyzed to determine how carbon accumulation has varied as a function of paleohydrology and paleoclimate. Testate amoeba assemblages, analysis of peat composition and humification, and a pollen record from a nearby lake suggest that isostatic rebound and climate may have influenced peatland growth and carbon dynamics over the past 6700 cal yr BP. Long-term apparent rates of carbon accumulation ranged between 8.1 and 36.7 g C m− 2 yr− 1 (average = 18.9 g C m− 2 yr− 1). The highest carbon accumulation estimates were recorded prior to 5400 cal yr BP when a fen existed at this site, however following the fen-to-bog transition carbon accumulation stabilized. Carbon accumulation remained relatively constant through the Neoglacial period after 2400 cal yr BP when pollen-based paleoclimate reconstructions from a nearby lake (McAndrews et al., 1982) and reconstructions of the depth to the water table derived from testate amoeba data suggest a wetter climate. More carbon accumulated per unit time between 1000 and 600 cal yr BP, coinciding in part with the Medieval Climate Anomaly.
The Pantanal is the world's largest tropical wetland and a biodiversity hotspot, yet its response to Quaternary environmental change is unclear. To address this problem, sediment cores from shallow lakes connected to the Upper Paraguay River (PR) were analyzed and radiocarbon dated to track changes in sedimentary environments. Stratal relations, detrital particle size, multiple biogeochemical indicators, and sponge spicules suggest fluctuating lake-level lowstand conditions between ~ 11,000 and 5300 cal yr BP, punctuated by sporadic and in some cases erosive flood flows. A hiatus has been recorded from ~ 5300 to 2600 cal yr BP, spurred by confinement of the PR within its channel during an episode of profound regional drought. Sustained PR flooding caused a transgression after ~ 2600 cal yr BP, with lake-level highstand conditions appearing during the Little Ice Age. Holocene PR flood pulse dynamics are best explained by variability in effective precipitation, likely driven by insolation and tropical sea-surface temperature gradients. Our results provide novel support for hypotheses on: (1) stratigraphic discontinuity of floodplain sedimentary archives; (2) late Holocene methane flux from Southern Hemisphere wetlands; and (3) pre-colonial indigenous ceramics traditions in western Brazil.
Stable isotope ratios from tree rings and peatland mosses have become important proxies of past climate variations. We here compare recent stable carbon and oxygen isotope ratios in cellulose of tree rings from white spruce (Picea glauca), growing near the arctic tree line; and cellulose of Sphagnum fuscum stems, growing in a hummock of a subarctic peatland, in west-central Canada. Results show that carbon isotopes in S. fuscum correlate significantly with July temperatures over the past ~20 yr. The oxygen isotopes correlate with both summer temperature and precipitation. Analyses of the tree-ring isotopes revealed summer temperatures to be the main controlling factor for carbon isotope variations, whereas tree-ring oxygen isotope ratios are controlled by a combination of spring temperatures and precipitation totals. We also explore the potential of combining high-frequency (annual) climate signals derived from long tree-ring series with low-frequency (decadal to centennial) climate signals derived from the moss remains in peat deposits. This cross-archive comparison revealed no association between the oxygen isotopes, which likely results from the varying sensitivity of the archives to different seasons. For the carbon isotopes, common variance could be achieved through adjustments of the Sphagnum age model within dating error.
Geomorphic mapping and stratigraphic analysis of a lake core document the late Quaternary glacial history of the Central and Eastern Massifs of the Picos de Europa, northwestern Spain. The distribution of glacial deposits indicates that at their most advanced positions glaciers occupied 9.1 km2, extended as far as 7 km down-valley and had an estimated equilibrium-line altitude (ELA) ranging between 1666 and 1722 m. Radiocarbon dating of sediment deposited in a lake dammed by moraines of this advance show that the maximum glacial extent was prior to 35,280 ± 440 cal yr BP. This advance was followed by two subsequent but less extensive late Pleistocene advances, recorded by multiple moraines flanking both massifs and sedimentary characteristics in the lake deposits. The last recognized glacial episode is the 19th-century maximum extent of small Little Ice Age glaciers in the highest cirques above 2200 m.
Long-term retreat rates of Puget Sound's unconsolidated sediment shorelines have been difficult to quantify, and little systematic research has been completed to constrain retreat in this area. We put forward a new application of cosmogenic 10Be exposure dating to assess long-term shoreline retreat on Whidbey Island, WA by dating lag boulders exposed on the shore platform as the shoreline erodes. Production of 10Be in shoreline boulders is modulated by both tidal submergence and topographic shielding from the retreating bluff. By modeling the combined effect of these variables on 10Be production, the timing of exposure can be determined and used to calculate long-term (103–104 yr) bluff retreat rates. In rare cases, retreat rates are underestimated due to inherited 10Be. Within the study area, average retreat rates ranged between 0 and 8 cm yr− 1. Our results demonstrate the utility of cosmogenic nuclides for determining long-term shoreline retreat rates in areas with thick sediment cover, where large numbers of samples can be collected, and where the pre-depositional history of the boulders is uncomplicated.
The karstic Lake Montcortès sedimentary sequence spanning the last 1548 yr constitutes the first continuous, high-resolution, multi-proxy varved record in northern Spain. Sediments consist of biogenic varves composed of calcite, organic matter and detrital laminae and turbidite layers. Calcite layer thickness and internal sub-layering indicate changes in water temperature and seasonality whereas the frequency of detrital layers reflects rainfall variability. Higher temperatures occurred in Lake Montcortès in AD 555–738, 825–875, 1010–1322 and 1874–present. Lower temperatures and prolonged winter conditions were recorded in AD 1446–1598, 1663–1711 and 1759–1819. Extreme and multiple precipitation events dominated in AD 571–593, 848–922, 987–1086, 1168–1196, 1217–1249, 1444–1457, 1728–1741 and 1840–1875, indicating complex hydrological variability in NE Spain since AD 463. The sedimentary record of Lake Montcortès reveals a short-term relation between rainfall variability and the detrital influx, pronounced during extended periods of reduced anthropogenic influences. In pre-industrial times, during warm climate episodes, population and land use increased in the area. After the onset of the industrialization, the relationship between climate and human activities decoupled and population dynamics and landscape modifications were therefore mostly determined by socio‐economic factors.
Fingerprinting glacial silt in last glacial-age sediments from Upper Klamath Lake (UKL) and Bear Lake (BL) provides continuous radiocarbon-dated records of glaciation for the southeastern Cascade Range and northwestern Uinta Mountains, respectively. Comparing of these records to cosmogenic exposure ages from moraines suggests that variations in glacial flour largely reflect glacial extent. The two areas are at similar latitudes and yield similar records of glacial growth and recession, even though UKL lies less than 200 km from the ocean and BL is in the continental interior. As sea level began to fall prior to the global Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), existing glaciers in the UKL area expanded. Near the beginning of the global LGM (26.5 ka), the BL record indicates onset of glaciation and UKL-area glaciers underwent further expansion. Both records indicate that local glaciers reached their maximum extents near the end of the global LGM, remained near their maxima for ~ 1000 yr, and underwent two stages of retreat separated by a short period of expansion.