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Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 215–227 | Cite as

Modest diatom responses to regional warming on the southeast Tibetan Plateau during the last two centuries

  • Juliane Wischnewski
  • Anson W. Mackay
  • Peter G. Appleby
  • Steffen Mischke
  • Ulrike Herzschuh
Original paper

Abstract

A general mean annual temperature increase accompanied with substantial glacial retreat has been noted on the Tibetan Plateau during the last two centuries but most significantly since the mid 1950s. These climate trends are particularly apparent on the southeastern Tibetan Plateau. However, the Tibetan Plateau (due to its heterogeneous mountain landscape) has very complex and spatially differing temperature and precipitations patterns. As a result, intensive palaeolimnological investigations are necessary to decipher these climatic patterns and to understand ecological responses to recent environmental change. Here we present palaeolimnological results from a 210Pb/137Cs-dated sediment core spanning approximately the last 200 years from a remote high-mountain lake (LC6 Lake, working name) on the southeastern Tibetan Plateau. Sediment profiles of diatoms, organic variables (TOC, C:N) and grain size were investigated. The 210Pb record suggests a period of rapid sedimentation, which might be linked to major tectonic events in the region ca. 1950. Furthermore, unusually high 210Pb supply rates over the last 50 years suggest that the lake has possibly been subjected to increasing precipitation rates, sediment focussing and/or increased spring thaw. The majority of diatom taxa encountered in the core are typical of slightly acidic to circumneutral, oligotrophic, electrolyte-poor lakes. Diatom species assemblages were rich, and dominated by Cyclotella sp., Achnanthes sp., Aulacoseira sp. and fragilarioid taxa. Diatom compositional change was minimal over the 200-year period (DCCA = 0.85 SD, p = 0.59); only a slightly more diverse but unstable diatom assemblage was recorded during the past 50 years. The results indicate that large-scale environmental changes recorded in the twentieth century (i.e. increased precipitation and temperatures) are likely having an affect on the LC6 Lake, but so far these impacts are more apparent on the lake geochemistry than on the diatom flora. Local and/or regional peculiarities, such as increasing precipitation and cloud cover, or localized climatic phenomena, such as negative climate feedbacks, might have offset the effects of increasing mean surface temperatures.

Keywords

Diatoms Tibetan Plateau Mountain lake Climate change Lake sediments Palaeolimnology 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Chengjun Zhang (Lanzhou University) for his help during fieldwork; Vivienne Jones and Carl Sayer for helpful advice with diatom identification; and Ute Bastian for her support in the sediment lab. Comments and advice from Kathleen Rühland and one anonymous reviewer are greatly appreciated. This research was funded by a scholarship to J. W. as part of the German Research Council (DFG, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) graduate school GRK1364.

Supplementary material

10933_2011_9533_MOESM1_ESM.docx (43 kb)
Table 1 Species list with authorities, Synonyms, and abbreviations. Asterisk indicates taxa with maximum relative abundance of <1%. (DOCX 42 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juliane Wischnewski
    • 1
    • 2
  • Anson W. Mackay
    • 3
  • Peter G. Appleby
    • 4
  • Steffen Mischke
    • 2
  • Ulrike Herzschuh
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine ResearchPotsdamGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of PotsdamPotsdam-GolmGermany
  3. 3.Department of Geography, Environmental Change Research CentreUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  4. 4.Department of Mathematical SciencesUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK

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