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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 03 Sep 2018

Research article | 03 Sep 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript was accepted for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

Diatom-oxygen isotopic record from high-altitude Petit Lake (2200 m a.s.l) in the Mediterranean Alps: shedding light on a climatic pulse

Rosine Cartier1,2, Florence Sylvestre1, Christine Paillès1, Corinne Sonzogni1, Martine Couapel1, Anne Alexandre1, Jean-Charles Mazur1, Elodie Brisset3,4, Cécile Miramont2, and Frédéric Guiter2 Rosine Cartier et al.
  • 1Aix-Marseille University, CNRS, IRD, Collège de France, INRA. CEREGE, Europôle de l'Arbois, 13545 Aix-en-Provence, France
  • 2Aix-Marseille University, CNRS, IRD, Avign on University, IMBE, Europôle de l’Arbois, 13545 Aix-en-Provence, France
  • 3IPHES, Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social, Tarragona, Spain
  • 4Àrea de Prehistòria, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain

Abstract. The 4.2kyrs event, used as a marker of holocene stratigraphy, has been described as a rapid climate change in the northern hemisphere triggering droughts in the Mediterranean region. However, the severity and geographical extent of this event are still the subject of investigation considering the small number of palaeoclimatic records for this time period, and the presence of contrasted climatic expressions between areas. At Petit Lake (France, Mediterranean Alps, 2200ma.s.l) a multiproxy study of Holocene lake sediments has revealed major changes in erosion processes and phytoplanktonic assemblages in the lake ecosystem around 4200 cal. BP. According to pollen analysis, deforestation is unlikely to be the main explanation of environmental changes as the watershed was covered by open vegetation for the duration of the study period. To test the implication of climate, our study presents an analysis of oxygen isotopes (δ18O) in diatoms describing hydrological modalities during the 4.2kyrs event in the Mediterranean Alps. The highest values of δ18Odiatom occur from 4400 to 3900cal.BP and are interpreted as an increase in water evaporation and/or a decrease in freshwater inputs to the lake system. Changes in water balance might have been associated with a change in precipitation sources towards a greater influence of precipitation coming from the Mediterranean area. These results are concomitant to an increase in erosion in the watershed and high representation of very low-dispersal pollen in the sediments suggesting the presence of intense runoff. This new isotopic record together with previously-published proxy-data, allows us to describe the 4.2kyrs event at Petit Lake as an increase in Mediterranean climate influences in the region, amounting to a general dry period punctuated by episodes of intense runoff occurring on the catchment slopes.

Rosine Cartier et al.
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Rosine Cartier et al.
Rosine Cartier et al.
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Short summary
A major environmental change, 4200 years ago, was recorded in the lacustrine sediments of Lake Petit (Mediterranean Alps). The regime shift was described by a modification in erosion processes and aquatic species in the lake. This study, based on the analysis of the lake water balance, revealed that these environmental responses were due to a rapid change in climate, lasting ca. 500 years. This general dry period was punctuated by episodes of intense runoff on the catchment slopes.
A major environmental change, 4200 years ago, was recorded in the lacustrine sediments of Lake...