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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2018-114
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 05 Sep 2018

Research article | 05 Sep 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

How dry was the Younger Dryas? Evidence from a coupled δ2H-δ18O biomarker paleohygrometer, applied to the Lake Gemündener Maar sediments, Western Eifel, Germany

Johannes Hepp1,2,a, Lorenz Wüthrich3, Tobias Bromm2, Marcel Bliedtner3,b, Imke Kathrin Schäfer3, Bruno Glaser2, Kazimierz Rozanski4, Frank Sirocko5, Roland Zech3,b, and Michael Zech2,6,c Johannes Hepp et al.
  • 1Chair of Geomorphology and BayCEER, University of Bayreuth, Universitätsstrasse 30, D-95440 Bayreuth, Germany
  • 2Institute of Agronomy and Nutritional Sciences, Soil Biogeochemistry, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Von-Seckendorff-Platz 3, D-06120 Halle, Germany
  • 3Institute of Geography and Oeschger Center for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Hallerstrasse 12, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland
  • 4Faculty of Physics and Applied Computer Science, AGH University of Science and Technology, Al. Mickiewicza 30, 30-059 Kraków, Poland
  • 5Institute of Geosciences, Group of Climate and Sediments, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, J.-J.-Becher-Weg 21, D-55128 Mainz, Germany
  • 6Institute of Geography, Chair of Landscape- and Geoecology, Dresden University of Technology, Helmholtzstrasse 10, D-01062 Dresden, Germany
  • apresent address: Chair of Geomorphology and BayCEER, University of Bayreuth, Universitätsstrasse 30, D-95440 Bayreuth, Germany
  • bpresent address: Institute of Geography, Chair of Physical Geography, Friedrich-Schiller University of Jena, Löbdergraben 32, D-07743 Jena, Germany
  • cpresent address: Institute of Geography, Chair of Landscape- and Geoecology, Dresden University of Technology, Helmholtzstrasse 10, D-01062 Dresden, Germany

Abstract. The Late Glacial to Early Holocene transition phase and particularly the Younger Dryas period, i.e. the major last cold spell in Central Europe during the Late Glacial, are considered crucial for understanding rapid natural climate change in the past. The sediments from Maar lakes in the Eifel, Germany, have turned out to be valuable archives for recording such paleoenvironmental changes.

For this study, we investigated a Late Glacial to Early Holocene sediment core that was retrieved from Lake Gemündener Maar in the Western Eifel, Germany. We analysed the hydrogen (δ2H) and oxygen (δ18O) stable isotope composition of leaf wax-derived lipid biomarkers (n-alkanes C27 and C29) and hemicellulose-derived sugar biomarkers (arabinose), respectively. Both δ2H and δ18O are suggested to reflect mainly leaf water of vegetation growing in the catchment of the Gemündener Maar. This enables the coupling of the results via a δ2H-δ18O biomarker paleohygrometer approach and allows calculating past relative air humidity values, which is the major advantage of the applied approach. Fundamental was the finding that the isotopic enrichment of leaf water due to evapotranspiration depends mainly on relative humidity. We hence use the coupled δ2H-δ18O biomarker approach to reconstruct the deuterium-excess of leaf water and in turn relative air humidity values corresponding to the vegetation period and daytime (RHdv).

Most importantly, the results of the coupled δ2H-δ18O biomarker paleohygrometer approach (i) support a two-phasing of the Younger Dryas, i.e. a relative wet phase (on Allerød level) followed by a drier Younger Dryas ending, (ii) do not corroborate overall drier climatic conditions characterising the Younger Dryas or a two-phasing with regard to a first dry and cold Younger Dryas phase followed by a warmer period along with increasing precipitation amounts, and (iii) suggest that the amplitude of RHdv changes during the Early Holocene was more pronounced compared to the Younger Dryas. One possible driver for the unexpected Lake Gemündener Maar RHdv variations could be the solar activity.

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